Provo • BYU punter Scott Arellano can only shake his head and smile when he reads about how college athletes in the future could receive cost-of-attendance stipends and other benefits above and beyond the books, tuition and $900 a month for room and board that football players on scholarship currently get.
That’s because the senior from Solvang, Calif., played for free the last two seasons, all while paying his own way at BYU and raising two children with his wife of four years, Alexis.
Scott Arellano file
» Played punter and defensive back at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif., before walking on at BYU.
» Booted a 73-yard punt against Wisconsin and averaged 41.0 yards per punt in 2013 as a junior.
» Eagle scout played running back and receiver at Santa Ynez High in California, is married and has two children.
"There were times when I seriously wondered if it was worth it," said Arellano, who was finally awarded a scholarship last spring. "But I never thought hard about quitting, because I want this really badly. I want to be good. I know the potential I have, and I am just waiting to showcase it."
Last winter, Arellano worked 20 hours a week for a social media analytics company in Sandy, took 14 credit hours of classes and still participated in weightlifting sessions and spring camp practices required of every healthy player. He says without the help of his wife, who also has to work to support the family, he would have given up on his dream long ago.
"Getting that [scholarship] meant a lot, because I have a wife and two kids [3-year-old Brooklyn and 11-month-old Kyler] and have no time to work [during the season]," he said. "I am taking a full load in school, trying to get straight A’s, and trying to maintain a 3.5 grade point average."
Arellano grew up wanting to play for BYU and was an excellent athlete at Santa Ynez High near Santa Barbara, Calif., playing running back, defensive back and punter. But he experienced what he called a "bump in the road" near the end of his senior year, and he thought his dream of playing for the Cougars was over.
"I got my girlfriend pregnant before [graduation], but there was never a thought of [not getting married and keeping the child]," Arellano said. "We had been together for about a year. Automatically, we knew we were going to get married."
But he also knew his dream of attending BYU was out of the question. So Arellano enrolled at BYU-Idaho, and was playing in an intramural flag football game and booming 50-yard punts with 4.5-second hang times when the thought struck him that he had too much God-given talent to not make an effort to play Division I football.
A friend got him a roster spot at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif., where he played defensive back and punter and earned all-conference honors in 2011. The coaches at Foothill contacted BYU assistant Nick Howell, and told the Cougars’ coach in charge of Northern California recruiting that he had an LDS punter who was worth taking a look at.
Howell invited Arellano to walk on.
So he showed up in Provo, in good standing with ecclesiastical leaders after having recently been sealed to Alexis and Brooklyn in an LDS temple, and persevered financially to the point where he is no longer playing for free, as it were.
"My wife is amazing," Arellano said. "She has been the backbone of our family from Day 1, how supportive she is. I wouldn’t be here without her. I thought at first that because of the choices we made together that I would never make it as a college football player. It turned out to be that the choices we made together got me to where I am."
Arellano said he was "not very happy" with his performance in 2013 (he was a scout team punter in 2012, All-American Riley Stephenson’s senior year) despite averaging a solid 41.0 yards per punt and unleashing a 73-yarder against Wisconsin. He spent time working on his punting with former BYU punter Lee Johnson, an 18-year NFL veteran, and met with BYU mental strength coach Craig Manning.
He says he’s mentally and physically ready to have a great senior season.
"I have to prove myself this year," Arellano said. "I have to show how grateful I am by working hard and performing well."
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