BYU offers talented Westlake athlete

John Ursua is a multi-talented athlete and the heart and soul of the offense for Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Last season he rushed 61 times for 723 total yards and 14 touchdowns. He also passed for 1,478 total yards and 24 touchdowns. Recently, Ursua picked up his first offer, and it's from a university close to his new home.

It's been difficult for John Ursua over the past couple of years. His family went through a lot of turmoil back on the big island of Hawaii, and because of that, they moved to Utah.

"After my dad decided to leave us, we decided to move up to Utah because my whole family was basically already up here," said Ursua. "My mom took me and my older sister and we came up here with the rest of my family. My two older brothers play football on scholarship at SUU. It wasn't sports-related or anything, it was because the rest of my family was already up here.

"All of my family is LDS and we come from the big island [Hawaii]. I plan on serving a mission, but it's a lot different being out here in Utah. The weather and the climate is a lot different, but football is the same and everything is good."

Since moving to Utah, Ursua has attended Westlake High School, where he has excelled both as a basketball player and as a dual-threat quarterback. Having completed his junior season, he's receiving interest from various colleges, and not just for football.

"Well, I've been getting all these letters and stuff from different schools," Ursua said. "There are also a lot of basketball schools that have been talking to me also. I sent in my highlights for basketball, and the AAU coach down in St. George wanted me to play with them. Weber State and Utah State called me, along with U.C. Santa Barbara."

As the primary pigskin-slinger for the Westlake Thunder, the 5-foot-9-inch, 170-pound Usura is also receiving letters from just about every instate college football program, as well as some from programs outside Utah.

"BYU and the University of Utah and pretty much all the Utah schools," Ursua said when asked about which schools have been recruiting him. "Then Oregon sends me letters almost every week. They want me to attend their camp this year. Stanford, Washington, and then there's Vanderbilt and a lot of different schools that want me and are letting me know that I'm on their radar. They mostly want me at slot receiver or just an athlete."

Of the instate colleges, Ursua – who is LDS – has received a scholarship offer from BYU.

"I had a one-on-one meeting with Coach Mendenhall, and there were five questions that I had to answer," Ursua said. "I can't remember all the questions, but they were based on how [Coach Mendenhall] runs his program under the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of course. There was a question on family and stuff, and then the last one was about BYU pride or whatever. I kind of just said that I wanted to keep all of my options open and play out things. I didn't want to let go of all my options, because [Coach Mendenhall] wanted me to sign right there, so they offered.

"I tried to show him that I am interested because BYU is a Division I school and they're doing great with the program. I didn't shut them down or anything. I just wanted to keep my options open and told him I was grateful for the opportunity."

Ursua's father, whom he hadn't seen in a while due to the separation from his mother, accompanied him at the meeting with Coach Mendenhall.

"It was good," said Ursua. "My father was down from Hawaii and I haven't seen him in a long time, so he came up. It was a coincidence that Coach Mendenhall asked me to bring my parents, and my dad was up here, so he got to meet my parents. They got to know him better and how he runs his program."

Although Ursua was glad to be with his father, he still harbored some tainted feelings due to past circumstances.

"My father is a big BYU fan and he really wants me to go there," Ursua said. "He talked to me for a while about it because my parents got separated after he left my mom. He kind of just left my mom and told her to take the kids, and that's why we moved up here, so it's kind of hard to listen to him and do what he wants. But, yeah, he likes BYU. He was really happy that he could come and meet BYU's head coach."

Mendenhall's program is based on specific principles, and his approach to recruiting revolves around those principles.

"I really like that and appreciate that," Ursua said. "I think it's great with how BYU approaches the recruiting situation. I think that's really important to have a good relationship with your coach. It's not always about being the best athlete, but also about being the best person you can. I think one reason why Coach Mendenhall asked those types of questions is because he wants to know what kind of a person I am. He wants to see what my standards and what my goals were and how I can help out BYU if I attend the university."

The coach that is recruiting Ursua is quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Brandon Doman.

"He's a sweet guy and he tries to help me out," Ursua said about Doman. "He was the first coach that really came up to me and really talked to me and expressed how he could use me in his program and whatnot. It kind of made me feel good. He's just a really great guy and coach."

In the meantime, Ursua will play out the recruiting process and evaluate his opportunities in a effort to see what is best for him.

"I'll be attending BYU's elite camp and I'll try and attend their Junior Day," said Ursua. "They're doing a great job on staying on top of me to make sure that I'm not slacking in any way. They're sending me letters and letting me know what's going on and how they're doing. It's important that I stay on top of that with them, but at the end, it just comes down to what's best for me and my family."

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