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Tyson Doman was wearing blue walking off the practice field on Tuesday afternoon. It's what most would expect from a man with his last name.
But the freshman walk-on has spent the week playing scout team safety for the Utes, albeit pretending to be a BYU player. It's nothing he hasn't done before, but come Saturday, he'll be crossing his fingers for the Team Up North to prevail at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"It's different growing up as a BYU fan you always hear that the Utes are the bad guys and that's how I was raised," he said. "As I got older, that changed."
Doman grew up south of the rivalry border in Alpine, where he was a standout two-way player for Lone Peak. But the biggest factor that swayed Doman growing up was his heritage: His father Bryce Doman and three of his uncles Cliff, Kevin and Brandon all donned BYU blue and notched wins over Utah. Quarterback Brandon Doman in particular notched back-to-back wins against the Utes in 2000 and 2001, including the game-winning drive at Rice-Eccles in LaVell Edwards' last visit.
Even though Tyson Doman plays a small role in preparation this week, the Utes are glad to have him as well as a number of other offspring of former BYU players.
"I gave Doman a hug the third or fourth practice because I was just excited to have a Doman at Utah," said linebackers coach Justin Ena, who played at BYU himself. "I had a Doman when I was playing, and it's a great family. [Tyson] is breaking ground right here."
It's not unusual for the Utes, who have seen a number of BYU legacies end up on their roster. That list also includes starting tight end Harrison Handley and starting safety Chase Hansen (and also Sam Whittingham and Alex Whittingham, although they've been cheering for Utah most of their lives).
For some, this means a little less complication on game days. The past is the past for the Handley family. Though father Darren Handley said he likes the program's direction since BYU hired Kalani Sitake, Harrison suggests that his dad won't have twisted loyalties come Saturday.
"I've gotten everyone moved over to red if they went blue, I'd have to beat them up," Handley said. "When I was younger, we used to go up to alumni games all the time. But now that I'm here, he's a Ute now. He has to admit that."
Recruiting a BYU player's son isn't as difficult as one might expect. When he goes into a former Cougar's living room, Kyle Whittingham notes, "I know most of those guys."
Maybe it's that familiarity with Whittingham, a former BYU player, that puts some of the parents at ease with switching sides, Chase Hansen said.
"When I first committed there was a lot of adjusting, in the sense it was a big turn of events for me," he said. "Coach Whitt is the type of guy that he puts a lot of important things first, and is a good example for all of us, too."
Doman may have walked on to BYU this year if not for the coaching change: He said Bronco Mendenhall's staff offered him a spot before hightailing to Virginia. But Doman said he had a good relationship with Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley and decided to stake his claim in Salt Lake City instead.
He said he's loved his experience so far. His family is still working on their feelings.
"Obviously they're supportive, but they're still adjusting," he said. "Who knows what they'll be wearing. There hasn't been any Utah stuff in our house until now."
Cougar fathers, Ute sons
The Utes have a number of players on the roster whose dads played at BYU:
WR Dakota Baker • T.J. Baker, played OL in 1988
S Tyson Doman • Bryce Doman, played WR from 1998, 1991-94
TE Harrison Handley • Darren Handley, played TE from 1985-88
S Chase Hansen • Brian Hansen, played LB from 1976-78, 1981-82
LB Alex Whittingham • Kyle Whittingham, played LB from 1978-81
RB Sam Whittingham • Fred Whittingham, played RB from 1984, 1987-89
*K Andy Phillips and LB Jake Jackson both had parents who attended BYU, but didn't play football there according to the Utah media guide.