Provo • Do football players at Utah, or BYU, get more pumped up for the annual rivalry game?
It’s the same on both sides, said BYU safety Travis Uale, a senior from Hawaii.
He should know. Uale started his career at Utah, redshirting the 2005 season, before transferring to BYU after an LDS Church mission to Monterrey, Mexico.
“It is really competitive at both ends,” Uale said. “Both teams prepare extra this week. They know the magnitude of the small things. Really, I am sure neither team will take it lightly. It is absolutely huge for both sides, I can promise you that.”
Having walked on at both schools, Uale is one of two BYU starters who is not on scholarship, joining fullback Zed Mendenhall. Uale became the starter when junior Steven Thomas suffered a career-ending concussion against Florida State.
In 2005, Uale was on the other sideline when Utah beat BYU 41-34 in overtime in Provo. But during his mission, he decided to transfer and try his luck walking on at BYU.
“I had a feeling that I needed to come here, whether it was for football or something else, I wasn’t sure,” Uale said. “Shortly after coming here, I met the woman who is now my wife [the former Mata Pope of Orem]. So I knew it was more than football, the reason for me coming here.”
Uale barely played in 2008, then was used on special teams in 2009 before seeing some time at safety toward the end of the season. He said he still has friends on Utah’s team, including junior defensive back Greg Bird, who attended Uale’s bachelor party in June 2009.“The rivalry game sparks a lot of emotion on both sides,” Uale said. “I have seen it from Utah’s side as well as ours, and I can tell you those guys will be fired up beyond belief. This game means everything.”