Caleb Etienne Calls Move From OSU To BYU ‘The Right Decision’

Aug 3, 2023, 3:37 PM | Updated: 3:53 pm

PROVO, Utah – When Caleb Etienne entered the transfer portal from Oklahoma State, it caught many off guard.

Etienne’s portal entry had national writers like ESPN’s Pete Thamel saying there would be a “robust market” for the offensive tackle that started 13 games last season for the Pokes.

Schools from the SEC and all over Power Five football contacted Etienne.

“It was a lot of teams. I’m not going to lie,” Etienne said to KSL Sports.

Despite all of the interest from schools around the country, Etienne zeroed in on BYU. A program that probably would not have been viewed as a favorite by outsiders following Etienne’s portal recruitment.

What gave BYU an inside track for the New Orleans native was a member of BYU’s coaching staff.

The BYU coach that helped bring Etienne to Provo

Brayden Kearsley, a first-year graduate assistant and former offensive lineman at BYU during the Bronco Mendenhall era, was a grad assistant at Oklahoma State while Etienne was in Stillwater.

“He was the offensive line GA (graduate assistant),” Etienne said. “We built the relationship while we were there and just having that, I wouldn’t say a coach; he was like a type of brother helping me learn different schemes, defenses, and all of that. I improved a lot.”

Since arriving on campus in the spring, Etienne says the brotherhood with Kearsley has helped him learn BYU’s offensive playbook “really fast” as he geared up for fall camp.

Etienne’s path to BYU is a unique one. He was a heralded recruit that signed with Ole Miss out of Warren Easton High in New Orleans. But he then had to transfer to junior college. He was at Fort Scott Community College, then transferred to Butler Community College, before settling in at Oklahoma State.

“He’s not afraid to work hard”

After two years with the Pokes, he was ready for another change. When Etienne made the move to leave Oklahoma State, a Big 12 foe BYU will face to close out the regular season on November 28, OSU head coach Mike Gundy said in April, “Well, Caleb just felt like he got beat out. So he left. But that’s his choice.”

That choice led Etienne to BYU, where he has two years of eligibility remaining.

“I just said, ‘I know where I want to go. I know where I want to be. I know who I want to be around.’ And I made the decision. I feel like it’s the right decision. I’m not looking back, and it is what it is. So let’s go.”

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake was excited to land Etienne out of the portal.

“Soft-spoken, hard worker, big, athletic,” Sitake said in June on his initial impressions of Etienne. “We’re really excited to have him here. I know he loves being here and he loves being with our team. He’s such a positive young man. I’m excited to see him. This guy can move; he’s big, he’s strong and he’s athletic. Plus, he’s humble and willing to work. Our strength staff and our coaches have seen a guy that just wants to get better and he’ll do whatever it takes and he’s not afraid to work hard.”

Caleb Etienne is competing at right tackle

During BYU fall camp, Etienne is competing at the right tackle spot. BYU offensive line coach Darrell Funk hasn’t guaranteed a starting spot to Etienne as he wants the competition to be intense over the next few weeks as coaches look to establish the depth chart.

Funk notes that there will probably be some “growing pains” for Etienne and all of the transfer portal newcomers along BYU’s offensive line. According to Funk, BYU has different techniques for offensive line terminology that might mean something else within another program.

Etienne acknowledges that there is a transition getting settled in from the left side of the line at Oklahoma State to now competing at right tackle.

“I haven’t played right tackle in a minute. … Playing right tackle is a little bit of an adjustment, but I mean, I’m a little [more] comfortable on that side than I was on the left side. I didn’t have the best season at Oklahoma State last year, but I feel like the right side will be a big change for me. I feel like it will help me down the road for when I do, you know, enter the draft, I’ll have experience at left and right. So, I think it will help me.”

Aspirations to play in the NFL

Etienne is currently playing at 6-8, 330 pounds. He wants to get down to around 320 or 325 throughout the season and is confident he will hit that playing weight during camp.

BYU has produced two NFL draft picks along the offensive line in the last three drafts, with Brady Christensen going to the Carolina Panthers and Blake Freeland to the Indianapolis Colts. Plus, they have a potential first-rounder in next year’s draft at left tackle in Kingsley Suamataia. The lone preseason All-Big 12 selection on this year’s BYU squad.

Etienne also aspires to be a future pick, but right now, his focus is to just “keep doing my job” for BYU’s offense.

Proud father

Along with his job along the BYU offensive line, he holds a job as a father. Etienne has a son, two-year-old Caleb Jr., who he had with his girlfriend, Sataizha Buckner White.

Being at a program with a strong focus on family played “a really big role” in the elder Etienne picking BYU.

“You’ve got a lot of guys on this team that are married. They’ve got guys here who have children; you know, they know what it means to be a father. I think it will help me as well, pick their brains and just be a great father each and every day. This is why I [play football] to do it for him. I want him to someday be like me or even better. That’s my boy and I just love him to death. I just want to make the best for him.”

Caleb Jr. currently lives in Kansas with his mother. But he will attend a BYU home game this season to see his dad in action.

“He’ll be here for the second game [versus Southern Utah],” Etienne said with a smile. “Yeah, he’s got a lot of energy and he’s really goofy. He’s got some nice little characteristics to him. I miss him and I can’t wait to see him. …So y’all watch for him.”

We will watch for young Caleb Jr., and everyone around the BYU football program will keep their eyes out for Caleb Sr. along BYU’s offensive line.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on Twitter and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Caleb Etienne Calls Move From OSU To BYU ‘The Right Decision’