Things were not going according to plan for BYU pitcher Brady Corless.
He was supposed to be under the bright lights in the big leagues by 2014, not nursing an elbow injury and muddling through a second season at a community college.
“Coming out of high school, you think you’re invincible and can do anything,” Corless said. “Then the injury happened and it set me back a little bit.”
Corless had an amazing injury-free high school career as a pitcher at Spanish Fork High School, highlighted by an invitation to play in the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic.
“After my junior year, I went to the All-American game, which is the top 50 players in the country,” Corless said. “After that event, you just get bombarded with recruiting emails. The first day that college coaches can call and talk to you, I got like 25 calls.”
Corless had bigger plans for his baseball career. He felt his momentum building and wanted to jump into professional baseball as soon as possible.
He said the high school competition wasn’t enough.
“Spanish Fork High School moved from 4A down to 3A, and I felt that the competition wasn’t going to push me or develop me at the 3A level,” Corless said. “If I graduated early, I knew I could get up to Salt Lake Community College and get good experience and be eligible for the draft.”
Corless decided to forego his senior year of high school and enrolled at Salt Lake Community College, despite pressure from coaches and friends to stay in high school.
His plan was simple: play a year at college, develop, get drafted.
Things went exactly according to plan, except the offer to play professionally wasn’t as lucrative as Corless had hoped.
“I had an awesome year. I got called in the draft, but coming off an All-American game, I was expecting a bigger offer because I had done really well,” Corless said.
He decided to return and play another year at Salt Lake Community College to impress professional scouts and raise his draft stock. Unfortunately, an unexpected injury slowed everything down.
Corless developed a UCL sprain in his throwing arm, which held him back from playing much during the 2014 season.
Corless had two options, since Salt Lake Community College is just a two-year program. He could go pro after a disappointing sophomore season or move on to a four-year university.
“Going into my sophomore year, I knew I would either get picked up in the draft next year, or I was going to go to college,” Corless said. “At that time, I was still talking to 15 colleges, and I narrowed it down. BYU was close to home, and my parents wanted me to stay close by, so I went with BYU.”
Corless had to adjust to attending a four-year university.
“I think his first year here was a little bit of a shock as far as classwork and balancing his time between classwork and the baseball field,” BYU pitching coach Jeremy Thomas said.
Corless was at BYU for a year and found himself facing academic ineligibility, which forced him to sit out the 2015 season.
The disappointment of not being a high-draft pick, followed by an injury and then having to sit out a year, was discouraging for Corless.
“I didn’t feel like I was really prepared academically for BYU,” Corless said. “Academic ineligibility was kind of a low point for me.”
That’s when he met Ashlee Nyborg — now his wife — and his life changed forever.
“The first date was horrible. He was super nervous and didn’t act like himself, and we just went to lunch really quick because the UFC fights were on that night,” Ashlee said. “So my first impressions definitely weren’t the best.”
Brady redeemed himself on the second date and showed Ashlee there might be a future for the pair.
“The second time we went out, he showed me he was a sweetheart,” Ashlee said. “Now Brady is the biggest gentleman I’ve ever known, and he never forgets to open my door.”
Brady said meeting Ashlee helped remove some of his self-imposed career pressure. He now had other things to think about — more than just what happened on the mound.
“Redshirting ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me,” Brady said. “Taking time off of baseball, I started to discover who I was and got a better sense of myself.”
On Jan. 6, Brady and Ashlee were married in the St. George Utah temple and baseball officially fell off of the top Brady’s priority list.
“Ever since I started dating her, it’s taken the pressure off of playing baseball,” Brady said. “Now that we are married, I’m just having fun out there, especially since it’s my last year.”
Thomas agreed Brady’s new mindset helped him perform better on the mound.
“A lot of young guys get caught up in the whole ‘I want to be drafted’ mindset. Their whole goal is to get drafted and because they are really focused on that outcome, the small steps to get there kind of suffer,” Jeremy said. “When you can change that mindset, like Brady has, to focusing on one pitch at a time, the outcome just naturally happens as a result.”
After a lifetime of preparing for the big leagues, Brady now doubts he’ll ever end up in the pros.
And he doesn’t care.
“I’m not hoping to make the draft or looking to go to the draft. It’s not a pressure on me anymore,” Brady said. “I’m just trying to have the best year I can. Marriage changes your perspective. Baseball was so high for me, and now it’s my wife and other things, and then baseball rolls in there.”
He’s well on his way to having his best year.
Brady went 2-4 in 2015 with a 5.51 ERA. As a senior this season, he is 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA and has established himself as the Cougars’ ace.
Baseball may be over soon for Brady, but the lessons he has learned throughout his career will stick around long after he’s walked off the mound for the last time.