Utah OL doesn’t live normal college life
Tony Bergstrom wears many hats — and does it well.
Three-year starter on the offensive line for Utah.
Chemical engineering major.
But a good host for potential recruits he is not.
Bergstrom, a senior with 27 starts to his resume, is married with an 8-month-old daughter, Olivia.
And, by Bergstrom’s own admission, he’s not that up to date on the campus hot spots.
"It’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to take my daughter to the zoo,’" said Bergstrom, a Salt Lake City native, at the Pac-12’s recent Media Day. "The coaches are smart enough not to do that (to potential recruits).
"Nobody wants to be married and have a kid in college except me, apparently."
But before marriage, fatherhood and further football glory, Bergstrom’s life took an important pit stop.
After graduating from Skyline High School in 2005, Bergstrom’s No. 1 concern was to complete an LDS church mission before playing college football — something that didn’t sit well with some schools that were recruiting him.
"I talked to a lot of these schools out here and it was, ‘Oh, come play a year first.’ My mind was, I don’t go play a year, get my weight up and leave," Bergstrom said. "Utah, Utah State, BYU and Boise said go ahead and go. East Coast schools said no."
Bergstrom left Utah for California and served in Sacramento, spending time teaching gospel and working on service projects.
"It’s something I will never regret," Bergstrom said.
But football was never that far from his thoughts, especially during his 5:30 a.m. workouts.
"I got lucky. By the end (of the mission), I had a pretty solid weight set. I came home about 40 pounds heavier than I left and shaved one-tenth of a second off my 40 time," said the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Bergstrom, who will turn 25 on Aug. 8.
Meeting Mrs. Right
Bergstrom’s two-year marriage to Jessica Kruger Bergstrom is, in several ways, unique: He currently plays or has played with all his wife’s three brothers.
Joe Kruger is a sophomore defensive end at Utah; Dave Kruger is a junior defensive lineman. The oldest, Paul Kruger, currently a Baltimore Ravens linebacker, faced off against Bergstrom more than once in practice.
"I went up against him (Paul) every day — he kicked my butt every day," Bergstrom said.
"He won some, I won some — that’s how it is when you’re on a team," Paul Kruger added. "You know, you’re going to get the best of each other, and it was just a really good time."
Paul also played the role of matchmaker.
"Tony, anybody who knows him and is close to him, they know he’s just a well-rounded guy," Kruger said. "He’s a talented player, an excellent student — straight-A student studying chemical engineering — a smart guy. He’s a moral person, which was important for me.
"You know, the list goes on and I could tell he was a good guy that I thought was going to respect my sister, and so I introduced them and it ended up working out."
The future spouses met after Utah’s 2008 spring game, and Tony made an instant impression on their first date.
But not really in a good way.
"After the spring game, I went to the autograph table (Tony) was sitting at and introduced myself to the shy Tony and gave him my number," Jessica said. "He called a couple days later and drove the 45 minutes south to Utah County to take me on a date. I watched him pull up in the ugliest green van I had ever seen, with a roof basket on top. As he got out of the car I noticed his black knee-high socks and white shoes. The rest of his body looked great. I just don’t know what he was thinking with those socks."
"Anyway, we go out to dinner … then after the dinner we go to a movie and he asks me to pay for the movie since he paid for dinner. I was pretty annoyed about that, to be honest. I’m the kind of girl that likes to be taken care of by a guy. I bit my tongue and paid for the movie."
Needless to say, things worked out.
"My wife is pretty awesome. No one makes fun of me for that," Tony says.
And when the Kruger brothers, and Bergstrom sit down to dinner, look out.
"We can shut down Chuck-A-Rama in one sitting," Jessica said.
Back to football
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Bergstrom, who has helped the Utes to a 33-6 record during his tenure, has a maturity about him that rubs off on some of the younger players.
"I try and part whatever I’ve learned onto these guys," said Bergstrom, a member of Utah’s Student-Athlete Mentors. "We have the opportunity to prove ourselves (in the new Pac-12)."
And on the field, Whittingham boasted that the senior, who didn’t surrender a sack during the 2010 regular season, is the "whole package."
"He’s got the size, the strength, the foot speed that you need to excel at the position," added Whittingham, a former WAC Defensive Player of the Year as a linebacker at rival BYU. "He’s been a big asset to our football team."
Just not as a recruiting host.