SALT LAKE CITY – BYU and Utah square off in a rivalry match-up Saturday in Salt Lake City, and the Cougar’s defense features a pair of players with a long history together.
Junior linebacker Fred Warner and freshman defensive back Troy Warner grew up in California, but they still heard about the “Holy War” as teenagers.
“A friend back home is a big BYU fan, and he knows all about the rivalry,” Troy Warner said. “My freshman year I figured out that BYU and Utah was a huge rivalry. Never forgot about it.”
Fred said he was less well-versed in the rivalry.
“Last season was the first time I encountered [Utah],” he said. “I hadn't really had any emotion towards the game, because I didn't know much about it."
Growing up, the two played football together at Mission Hills High School. Both were four-star prospects their senior year. Fred came to BYU first, then helped recruit his brother to follow suit.
“My brother loved them, so I’m a guy that follows in my brother’s footsteps, cause he's a great role model” he said. “I think BYU has always had a special place for me."
And because both play defense, they don’t get to watch each other as much as they’d like.
“During Arizona, I wasn't too worried about him,” Fred Warner said. “He looked confident... he showed what he could do on the field, made some good tackles. During [the game], I couldn't really see what he was doing because I had to worry about my own self."
“It’s kinda crazy cause you don't pay attention as much as you want to because you're focused on your own job,” Troy Warner said. “ But just knowing I have the opportunity and I’m doing it, it's fun.”
Fred was part of the Las Vegas Bowl last season, which gave the long-standing rivalry an unexpected extra edition.
“I wanted to win that game really badly,” he said. “When we went down a lot, every time they'd score, I’d be like, it can't get any worse from here, and it kept getting worse.”
Troy watched from the stands.
“I got front row seats, I was cheering on BYU, of course it was a crazy game the way Utah went up and everything, but BYU rallied back,” he said.
And although he hasn’t felt the sting of a rivalry defeat, the freshman is playing for those who have, including his older brother.
“I’m on a clean slate, so I want to start off my career against them right,” Troy Warner said. “Make sure those guys that are 0-whatever against them, I wanna do what I can to get them a win against Utah.”