Cotton Bowl Hall of Famer Shay Muirbrook Shares His BYU Memories

In our continuation with visiting with BYU alumni and revisiting their time at the university, we sit down with Shay Muirbrook who recently got inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame and talk about his time at BYU.
Who else were you recruited by and why did you choose BYU?
I was recruited by all of the PAC-10 and some from the Big XII. Colorado was the main ones I got letters from. Funny story was that UCLA offered me a scholarship my junior year, but I wanted to go to USC. They said I could play safety, but not middle linebacker. Washington was another school I was very interested in; they kind of fell off late, then called me the day before I was scheduled to visit BYU and said they had a scholarship for me, but I would have to cancel my trip to BYU. Other than UCLA, BYU had showed the most interest, so I was not prepared to cancel my trip to Provo. Of all the schools recruiting me BYU had more to offer me than any other school. I had family in Utah, and most importantly their starting MLB (Shad Hanson) was going to be a senior, which meant the door would be open for me to solidify a starting job long term. This was the biggest upside for me, not to mention that BYU was going to bowl games every year. Above all though was the program and the opportunity to play for one of the best coaches in the nation, LaVell Edwards.
Coming from California what did you enjoy about Provo?
Coming from Cali I enjoyed the snow and the mountains. I didn't mention it before, but on the recruiting trip they took us snowmobiling. I talked to a lot of players who said that because of the snowmobiling experience alone they committed to BYU. For me though it was a natural fit because I have always had a passion for the outdoors. I also was really drawn to the pureness of playing football in the snow. I remember around spring time as it would start to warm up, looking forward to tubing the Provo River. It's probably why I didn't mind the ice baths so much either during two -a- days, I had already been doing it all summer. In the winters snowboarding was also a lot of fun.
What made the 96' team so good?
What made the 96 team so great was talent. We were stacked, every position was a baller. The thing a lot of fans do not know about the 96 team was that we were close, we were like brothers that want to outdo the other one in everything, but as soon as some looks at your brother sideways the hair stands up on your neck and you want to knock someone out because disrespecting your brother is disrespecting you. We believed we had something to prove, we knew we were great.
Is there one play that sticks out where everything went right?
It's hard to focus on just one play that stands out. I do seem to recall the one on one's in the hole with Utah running backs. I remember Marshall Faulk, there are tons of plays I can think of, but more than the plays I remember the games. UCLA as a freshman, Notre Dame as a sophomore, I really started playing well my sophomore year. In the Colorado State game I was in the zone, I was hitting the holes before the running back, there were a couple times I saw the hole close out and filled the cut back before the back even saw it. As a linebacker I was always most proud of my TFL's. I know I had a few in that game. I think a TFL really encapsulates all the attributes of a great linebacker. First, they have to diagnose the play quickly and precisely. Next, they react to what they see. They have to have the speed and quickness to accelerate through a hole that will close in a split second. Finally, they need to bring all their physicality to bear on the running back with a collision that ends in the running back losing yards. The best way I can describe this, is this past weekend I saw my son make a play from the linebacker position that I probably made a hundred times. The play was going away from him and rather than scrape down the line he shot through the gap and tackled the ball carrier in the backfield "TFL". Talk about living vicariously. Words can't describe it, well maybe one-LINEBACKER.
Did you or anyone on the defense talk smack to the opposing team during the game?
As an underclassman I talked a lot of smack. My favorite was running down running backs and telling them they needed to get some wheels. When you talk smack the whole point is to get in your opponents head. So you have to say stuff that will make him question his skill as a football player. As I matured as a player and leader I realized that the ultimate mind game is class, pick'em up off the ground after you drive'em into the dirt.
What opposing fan base was the worst and why?
I may have addressed this one already but Utah State and Wyoming had the worst fans, as well as played dirty. Utah was different because you expected it, but Wyoming really hated us.
If you were recruiting a top MLB to BYU what would show and share with them?
If I was recruiting a top MLB to BYU I would look first at him as a FOOTBALL PLAYER. Does he know the game and does he understand what offenses are trying to do when they call plays. A middle linebacker is more than just a tackler; he is the quarterback of the defense. After those things it would be play making ability.
How does it feel to be a Cotton Bowl Hall of Famer?
In regards to the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame....validation. It is a tremendous honor to be associated with the Cotton Bowl on any level,to be named as a Hall of Fame member is humbling. As I read the list of inductees I could not help but feel such a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. To be included and have my name forever associated with football legends is truly a fitting end to a great ride. I can only thanks those who believed in me and encouraged me to go and be the best. High school coaches Gary Campbell & Reiney Kline. Ken Schmidt and LaVell & Patti Edwards. My wife Megan and of course my family Carl, Sherry, Tasha, and Jed.Thanks for always giving me the best, football camps, and gear all of it made me better, but you made me the best. I love you all.
Above all our heavenly father deserves all praise. It was he alone that blessed and bestowed upon me the ability and the opportunity to have this very tremendous and rare experience of a football life. Playing for the Brigham Young Cougars and LaVell Edwards is something that I will always cherish and thank the Lord for every night.
Tell us where you are today and what you are up to?
Life after football finds me as the office linebacker for QuickPay Corp. a start up out of the bay area. My dad patented the mobile technology (QP App) and founded QuickPay Corp. This technology allows people to find and pay for parking from their phone. On a serious note, I work with the professional customers to implement our technology into their lots and garages. I am directly involved with customer service for the end user/consumer. Me and my team develop and implement adoption programs that benefit both B2B and B2C. I love my role with QuickPay. I find the intangibles that allowed me to be successful on the football field are assets that translate into success in the business world. Leadership, teamwork, and hardwork never go out of style. We (QuickPay) are actually in the process of rolling out our first on street parking solution in Salt Lake City. So for those of you reading this that want to help out a fellow Coug or just want an easier way to pay for parking, look for the QP App or QuickPay in a city near you in the very near future.
As for family life, my very beautiful wife Megan and I just celebrated our 9th anniversary. She is the definition of a great woman behind a good man. We have been blessed with three very healthy and handsome sons. Brock is our oldest; he is 8 and scored his first touchdown this past weekend. Hunter is two and is affectionately known as "Wild Man". Mason is our little guy and he just turned 6 months old. I help out a little bit, coaching Brock's team. Every now and then a parent will come up to me and tell all about football and how it should be played, I just listen ... Hoping to learn more about a game that teaches boys to be men and men the secrets to a successful life.