Tyler Batty had been waiting for what seemed like a lifetime to join the BYU football team. The Payson native always dreamed of being a Cougar and donning the royal blue, but had to wait for it.
The defensive lineman committed to BYU in December 2016 and graduated from high school nearly three years ago, but wasn’t able to join the team until this January.
Shortly after graduating, Batty left to Spain, where he served a church mission, and returned in July 2019. Instead of joining the team in the fall, he decided to take some time to get his feet back under him and work on getting back into shape.
Yet, Batty still attended every home game and watched every away game of the 2019 season, although he didn’t enroll at BYU and officially join the team until January, as a midyear addition.
While Batty was away on his mission, his high school coach was contacted by some other schools wondering if the BYU commit would be interested in possibly playing for another school, but the answer was always the same: no.
“I was just really excited to get back,” Batty said. “... And no, [I] never wavered. BYU became the plan when I committed and it stayed the plan ever since.”
The addition of Batty should start paying off almost immediately, when it finally happens.
The defensive line struggled to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks through most of the last season, often giving up late-game leads, at least partially because of an anemic pass rush. BYU ranked 111th out of 130 FBS teams with 17 total sacks, averaging just 1.31 sacks per game.
Batty can pose a big threat up front with his size, at 6-foot-5 and 261 pounds. The defensive lineman has gained nearly 30 pounds since his high school senior season.
But a couple of months after finally enrolling at BYU and a couple of weeks after starting his first spring football practices, Batty is once again left waiting.
“It was tough,” Batty said of practices getting canceled. “… I was really excited to be practicing with the team in spring ball and really excited to get the pads back on. To have that cut short definitely wasn't fun. This coronavirus definitely hasn't been fun for anybody. We're just hoping that we get over it as soon as possible and get things back to normal.”
Seeing how the pandemic has crippled Spain has brought the coronavirus even closer to home. The Payson High product served widely in Spain — in Madrid, Murcia, Algeciras, Cuenca and Badajoz.
As of Friday morning, Spain had the second-most coronavirus cases (184,948), behind the Unites States. While Spain’s population is only 15% the size of the U.S. population, its death cases percentage is more than doubled. About 5.1% of people confirmed to have the coronavirus in the U.S. have died, while 10.4% of confirmed cases in Spain have passed away.
Because of the severity of it, Batty has been making sure to stay in contact with the people he befriended over there.
“I definitely sympathize with them,” Batty said. “When this broke out, I was worried for them. … It was frightening and I’m just hoping and praying that things continue to go well and that their quarantine over there — their lockdown that they’re in — works and that they’re able to prevent as many deaths as possible.”
Regardless of what the coronavirus continues to affect, Batty said he will continue to work on himself and stay ready to contribute at whatever level is necessary to help his Cougars. But the freshman would like for things to get back to normal (whatever that may be) sooner rather than later and hopefully the pandemic can be mostly resolved by the summer so there can still be a full season of college football this fall.
At the same time, after having to wait so long to come to his dream school and join the football team, it's almost comical that this is how his first semester has played out.
“It’s something you have to laugh about,” “There’s nothing you can do about it, I can do about it. It’s a little comical, but you just have to roll with the punches and laugh about it.”