BYU offers talented Tongan linebacker

With few scholarships to give for the 2012 class, BYU offered a scholarship on Tuesday to a California linebacker on one of the top high school teams in the state. This athlete was recently rated as one of the top 30 junior prospects in the Golden State and is a potential Army All-American Bowl candidate.

It was just another day for Butch Pau'u. Well, at least he thought it was. Things got really interesting around 10:30 on Tuesday morning when he got called into the office at Servite High School.

"I was in my second period class and I finished taking my test when they called me into the office," said Pau'u. "My head football coach [Troy] Thomas pulled me out of the office and took me to the football room. He told me that BYU had offered me a scholarship. I was shocked! I called my parents and told them what had happened."

When he called his father Tupou, the two shared how excited they were about the BYU offer. This was the offer a proud father had long hoped his son would receive, and now he had learned that his dream had come true for his son.

"Man, I was just really, really grateful," Pau'u said. "My dad has had me playing football since I was seven. I mean, just the opportunity to football at the next level is such a humbling experience and a great opportunity. I was just so thankful and when I called and told my dad he almost started crying. It was just really, really cool for the both of us."

After calling his father, Pau'u called BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

"[Mendenhall] told me that they've been keeping an eye on me for a while. He asked me questions on how my day was going so far, and how I was doing in school and things like that. I just thanked him for giving me the opportunity to go play at BYU. He said they had been discussing prospects for the 2012 class and I had been brought up a few times. They had seen my film and thought that I was a good player, but they also saw that I was a good student in the classroom. That was something else that stood out to them. I am a member of the LDS faith and I do plan on serving a mission and think those things were part of it as well."

Rated as one of the top 30 junior prospects in the state of California by Cal-Hi Sports, Pau'u could be one of the top linebackers in the Golden State. He was also one of the top linebacker performers in the Army All-American Combine that was help this past January.

Despite his accolades, Pau'u was deeply humbled by his offer from BYU.

"I don't really know how I feel, it just hasn't really hit me yet," said Pau'u, still in shock. "I don't really know how to explain it. I'm just so grateful and excited, I don't know how to feel. This was the offer me and my family had been waiting for. I went there my freshman year to a football camp and we wanted a BYU scholarship since then.

"This just means the world to me. I get to go to school where other people who are of the same beliefs that I have are, and I get a chance to play with and against some of the top athletes in the country. With BYU offering me a scholarship, it just shows to me that I'm among some of the top athletes in the country. My parents and I have just been waiting and praying. Now we have to stay humble and show how thankful we are for this opportunity. I'm so in awe right now."

Pau'u plans on attending BYU's summer camp later in the year, and he intends to bring a few of his fellow teammates from Servite High School with him. He also plans on making a commitment decision before his senior season begins.

"I want to get things over with before my senior season comes," said an excited Pau'u. "This was the offer my family and I wanted. I'm definitely going to sit down and talk things over with my family and go from there."

Pau'u has a 3.9 GPA and wants to serve a mission. His parents both want him to go to BYU, and his mother graduated from there. In addition, his cousin Uona Kaveinga is on the team. So, is there really any question about what school he'll be committing to?

"I think I already know where I 'm going," said an excited Pau'u with a laugh. "I really don't think there's a better fit out there for me."

If and when he does commit to BYU, Pau'u will be able to play one year with Kaveinga before serving a mission. He's excited about the opportunity that's he's been given and wanted to relay a message to other LDS football players around the country.

"I just want to let all the faithful LDS football players out there know that if you really obey your parents you'll be blessed," Pau'u said. "If you keep your priorities straight with your Heavenly Father first, having family second and school third, everything else will fall into place for you. I've seen the blessings that's been bestowed upon me and my family. I really believe in this and I'm grateful for my Heavenly Father for this opportunity."

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