Man for man, the Legion isn't as impressive as, say, Florida's or Ohio State's offensive line, or possibly even Michigan's, which averages only 260 pounds tackle to tackle. And it certainly doesn't have a player in the class of Pitt's Bill Fralic. "He's the kind the pros are drooling over," says French.
The Cougar linemen aren't drawing many drools, but neither are they leaving the NFL scouts dry. "I think this BYU team has more high-quality athletes and pro prospects than they've ever had," says Reed Johnson, director of player personnel for the Denver Broncos. "That's especially true of the offensive line. All four seniors [Wright is a junior] could be on an NFL roster next season."
Wong is The Unrecognized. He didn't even make honorable mention All-WAC, yet, except for Matich, he may have the best shot at a pro career because of his size (260 and rising). Anae, a second team all-conference pick, is The Natural, an outstanding all-around athlete who has also played center and tackle and prefers intramural basketball to any other game. If the pros think he can hold his weight—he has had trouble staying at more than 240 pounds—he could be a fourth-or fifth-round selection.
Garrick is The Unfortunate. He's certainly one of the few players in history to have come back from seven knee operations to make an all-conference first team. He also played most of last season, when he was named second-team All-WAC, with a broken wrist. Of Garrick's left knee, BYU's orthopedic specialist, Dr. Brent Pratley, says in amazement, "It's the knee of a 60-year-old arthritic man." Yet Garrick is the Cougars' fastest lineman, with 4.75 speed in the 40, and its strongest player. Because he had all seven operations before college, Garrick's still considered draftable in some quarters, most emphatically his own. "If the pros want somebody with no marks on his knee, they don't want me," he says. "But if they want somebody who can play football with any lineman in the country, then they do want me."
Matich, an All-WAC first team selection, is projected as a third-or early-fourth-round pick by most scouts. He's intelligent, mature beyond his years (he's 23 after having spent 18 months in Mexico working as a Mormon missionary, something that 37% of the Cougar players do during their college days) and dedicated to the game (witness the M&Ms). He also has been nearly injury-free and, at 6'5" and 260 pounds, has a frame that could accept 15 additional pounds. "And he's a center," says Johnson. "You can say all you want about converting a guy, but Matich has played the position with a noseguard lined up three inches from his face and gotten back to pass-block. That's important."
"He's what they look for," says French, who, as we've seen, isn't overzealous in his praise of his players. "He's got good strength and excellent feet. On film you see some players move. You see Trevor flow. No movement is wasted.
"On the other hand [there's always another hand with French], Trevor maybe isn't mean enough. He doesn't always go out and really level someone when he has the chance. I'm sure the pros will be looking to see whether he improves in that area."
Even in a more aggressive, run-oriented system, however, it's unlikely that Matich would be a meanie. This is a guy, after all, whose specialty in high school was dancing the Charleston and the jitterbug; a guy who coached BYU's upper-class coeds to a 29-22 victory over the underclasswomen in an October powder-puff touch football game (Young was his offensive coordinator); a guy who's going to be selling skin-care products, of all things, after the season; and a guy who weighed in at a nerdy 207 pounds when he returned to Provo in September 1982 after completing his mission.
Matich's experience in Mexico represents a true picture of the missions that cause so much consternation among Cougar opponents. Yes, players like Matich do get an extra season of maturity and experience on a mission, during which time they wear a hair shirt and not a redshirt. But the last time anyone looked, precious few blocking sleds were in the dusty, poverty-stricken states of Durango and Chihuahua, where Matich spread the Mormon word. At best, he ate one square meal a day, and for the duration he didn't even see a football, much less a sled, blocking dummy or weight room. He says he did "a little running and a little rope-jumping" during his last two months in Mexico, but that was it. And he got in some sprinting one day in Chihuahua, but that was after he was shot at by Communists. "They don't care for us preaching," says Matich.
After his mission, Matich looked less like a 21-year-old college lineman with two years of varsity experience than the lanky, teenage singer-dancer of Galena Street East, the musical variety troupe with which he'd toured the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico during his high school days in Sacramento. "I left not knowing whether I would play when I got back," said Matich. "Guys have lost their interest after they've seen another part of the world. When I was out there I didn't miss it. I wasn't in Mexico to prepare for the football season. After I came back I had the desire to play but no competitiveness, no fire. After a while it returned, mostly because I got tired of getting pushed around."