Provo • Growing up in the Salt Lake City suburb of Bountiful, Brady Christensen wasn’t a fan of one particular college football team. Rather, BYU’s starting left tackle was more a fan of the sport itself.

“If there were tickets available for the Utah game, I would go to the Utah game,” he said. “If there were tickets for the Utah State game or the Weber State game or the BYU game, I would go there. I was just a fan of football, mostly.”

Of course, that all changed when Christensen was a senior in high school and BYU swooped in a couple of weeks before Signing Day and offered him a full-ride scholarship. He had previously committed to Air Force, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play close to home.

“Now I am the biggest BYU fan out there,” he said.

Remarkably, the lightly recruited Christensen has started in all six of BYU’s games this season as Tanner Mangum’s blindside protector. He’s one of three starting redshirt freshmen on the Cougars’ offensive line, joining center James Empey and left guard Keanu Saleapaga.

That love of college football growing up turned into an unforgettable moment for Christensen at the beginning of the opener at Arizona when he got his first “welcome to college football” experience.

“It was just crazy,” he said. “I mean, Arizona’s offense got the ball first and missed that field goal. We got the ball second and when we were waiting in that huddle, waiting to go out there, I was like, ‘man, this is weird. This has always been my dream since I was a kid, and here I am.’ So to go out there with the first-team O line was a dream come true.”

HAWAII AT BYU


When • Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
TV • ESPN2

Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said last week that the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Christensen is playing as well as anybody on the BYU offense, which has had its ups and downs. Christensen came out of nowhere to earn a starting spot in preseason camp, beating out several players with more experience.

“Initially what he did is he came out and worked hard every day and proved himself,” Grimes said. “What he’s done since then is he’s established himself as one of our best players, one of our most consistent guys.

“And he is really, for a young guy, pretty complete in the things that he does, his ability to pass block, his ability to run block when we are running the ball between the tackles, and be a physical presence,” Grimes continued. “He has the kind of athleticism we need when we are running jet sweeps and we need a tackle to reach out there and secure the edge. He does all those things well.”

Christensen agreed that his emergence and size is “kind of a surprise” considering his parents — Doug and Shauna — are just 5-foot-11 and 5-7 and did not play college sports. He credits former Bountiful coach Larry Wall and his staff for developing him into a Division I prospect and remembers fondly the summer conditioning sessions called “Brave quarters” that prepared him for the season.

“I learned how to be physical and tough in high school,” he said.

Christensen grew six inches between his sophomore and junior year at Bountiful, then gained about 45 pounds on his LDS Church mission to New Zealand. He’s put on 40 additional pounds since arriving home in the summer of 2017.

He redshirted last year because his strength “wasn’t quite there” and focused on improving his technique. With Grimes and Pugh joining the program last winter, he immediately set about to impress the new coaches in spring camp.

“It was always my goal to go out in spring and show what I am and what I can do,” he said. “You can’t win a position in spring ball, but you can go out and make a name for yourself.”

And that he did.

BYU OFFENSIVE TACKLE BRADY CHRISTENSEN
• Only scholarship offers out of high school were from BYU, Air Force, Southern Utah and Weber State
• Served a two-year church mission to Hamilton, New Zealand, after graduating from Bountiful High
• Has started at left tackle in all six games this season after redshirting in 2017 and playing on the scout team