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Inside the Story: Soccer player and family switches sides and colors in BYU-Utah rivalry

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Inside the Story: Soccer player switches sides and teams in BYU-Utah Rivalry (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) From soccer player to football star.

That's what happened to number 97 with the Runnin' Utes.

Matt Gay's family had always bled blue.

They live just minutes away from Lavell Edwards stadium in Provo, Utah, near Brigham Young University.

And his grandfather played for BYU.

"Rolling over in his grave," laughed Suzy Gay, Matt Gay's mother.

Matt Gay's brother, Steven, suited up as the BYU mascot Cosmo for four years.

"It's very strange. The first time I put it on I had to look into the mirror a couple of times," he said, as he talked about putting on a red University of Utah shirt for the first time.

But now, the Gay family is sporting red for their son and brother.

Gay is an avid soccer player who only played a year of high school football when he became the Utes' starting kicker.

"Never thought I'd be playing football, honestly," Gay said.

He now leads the nation in field goals.

"I'm 14 for 14 on field goals," he said.

His parents say the whole thing had been "surreal" for them.

"It's great. It's good to get my family out of the blue and into the red," Gay said.

His family isn't the only ones who have made some big loyalty changes. All of Gay's friends who once wore blue are now wearing red.

Gay was all about soccer growing up and played for Utah Valley University.

During a slump he decided to try football.

He tried out at BYU but didn't make the cut.

"They decided to go with the other kicker," he said.

So he went to the U of U and made the team.

In the first game of the season, the starter missed a field goal so he was brought in.

That was the beginning of his amazing streak, including scoring the first nine points against BYU.

"It was great. It was fantastic," he said.

The secret to his success isn't hours and hours of practice.

He believes it has to do with his best friend, Parker Overly, who lost his life in a tragic crash in Provo Canyon back in April.

"It was nothing you can prepare for," Gay said.

So every game, Gay writes the initials "P.O." on his taped wrist.

"He's one of the biggest inspirations why I'm doing this," Gay said. "He's the one who always pushed me to play football."

Gay is a senior this year, so this could be his last season unless he's able to get an extension.

UPDATE: Since this story aired, Matt Gay has been granted another year of eligibility.

His ultimate goal would be to go pro.

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