When Braydin Shipp left in May 2018 on what was supposed to be a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there’s no chance he knew what March 2020 would bring him personally.
The former American Fork High School and three-star lineman committed to play college football at Boise State before his senior season in 2017 but Wednesday, the opening of another 2020 signing period, he signed a National Letter of Intent to a different school.
The 6-foot-6 offensive lineman signed to Weber State a month after returning home early from his mission and learning Boise had given his spot to someone else.
“At first, I was like, ‘we’ll see what happens,’ but now, I love it. I love the coaches ... I feel like it’s a good fit, I love everything about it,” Shipp told the Standard-Examiner about signing to Weber State.
The first game of Shipp’s senior season was at Weber High School, a team coached by Matt Hammer.
Hammer — who is again Weber State’s offensive coordinator, a position he held before going to Weber High — chimed in on Twitter after Shipp signed.
“Had a chance to coach against (Shipp) and now he is going to be here with us and that fires me up,” he tweeted.
Because Shipp committed to Boise State before his senior year, he said they were “honestly one of the only schools I talked to.”
After 22 months in Lima, Peru, Shipp was called home from his mission early due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has grown into a pandemic.
His scheduled return home would have come in May, in plenty of time to be expected to participate in summer workouts and fall camp. But when he arrived, he spoke with coaches at Boise State and got a surprise.
“I don’t really know the whole story, but they gave a scholarship to someone else and they wanted me to walk on this year and get a scholarship next year,” Shipp said. “In my head, I was like, ‘if I can go somewhere else and get a scholarship, it would be better to get school paid for.’ That was one of the biggest things was getting school paid for.”
He sat down with his parents and started talking about his options, and began to zero in on Weber State as a top option.
Weber State had gone 11-3 and won two playoff games the final season Shipp was home, but he likely hadn’t noticed as he was bound for Boise State.
But in the two years he was gone, WSU went 21-7, won three more playoff games, achieved a school record No. 3 national ranking, and advanced to the national semifinals for the first time.
Shipp blocked for quarterback Bronson Barron at American Fork, and it was Barron who helped educate Shipp about Weber’s recent history when he returned.
“We started talking about everything and I was like, ‘shoot, they’re pretty good.’ That’s when I started looking into Weber,” Shipp said. “They won a lot of games, they’re good, their coaches are sweet.”
Now the two will again be teammates. Barron signed to Weber State in 2018 before serving a mission, from which he returned home in March.
The pandemic has halted all in-person recruiting visits between coaches and players, and university-sponsored travel, at least through May. But since he lives in state, Shipp said he and his parents drove up to Weber State’s campus on their own and “looked at the facilities from the outside.”
That was when he became aware of WSU’s new football building, housing a new locker room, weight rooms, coaches offices and more. The weight room is visible from exterior windows.
“That was super nice, I hadn’t seen that yet. Didn’t even know that was a thing until I got up there,” Shipp said.
A highlight package shows Shipp as an agile, big body-mover on the offensive line.
After saying goodbye to a small senior class in 2019, Weber State signed 13 players between December and February signing periods. Shipp ostensibly becomes the 14th player in the class, along with a few other returning missionaries.
The Wildcats return around 17 out of 22 starters from last season.