Fanaika awaiting BYU offer

Right in BYU's backyard is the 13th ranked offensive guard in the nation. This 2012 prospect, Brandon Fanaika, currently has seven scholarship offers, most of which are from Pac-10 schools, but there is one college in particular that he is really hoping will join with the others in offering him a scholarship.

During the BadgerSports Elite Lineman Challenge held on March 21 in Las Vegas, many of the West's top linemen gathered in an effort to put their athletic abilities on display. Rising to the top was none other than 6-foot-3-inch, 310-pound Pleasant Grove offensive guard Brandon Fanaika.

Fanaika is not only a big presence on the football field, but he's also a force in the weight room as well.

"I bench around 345 pounds," the senior-to-be said. "I squat 450 pounds right now and know by this time next year I'll be even stronger."

Currently on the table are seven scholarship offers from Pac-10 and WAC colleges.

"I have offers from Utah, Utah State, Washington, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, so I have seven offers right now," said Fanaika. "I've been getting a lot of letters from Tennessee and Oregon sends a couple letters every day. All the schools that have offered me, obviously, have been sending me letters. USC has been sending me letters and LSU and Nebraska as well."

However, one in-state college that has yet to extend an offer to one of the nation's top offensive guards is BYU.

"I don't know why [BYU hasn't offered me], but they did tell me they're pretty close," said Fanaika, who is LDS. "Hopefully they'll offer me and I just need to keep working harder. They did tell me they're pretty close, so hopefully everything will turn out good."

Although he might not know why the Cougar staff hasn't extended an offer yet, one thing is certain: Fanaika knows a lot about BYU.

"You know, growing up I've always been around BYU and I've gone to a lot of their games," Fanaika said. "They just have a different approach to the game. They focus on the more important stuff in life like education, spirituality and helping the community. Those are the things that will matter most in life.

"If you're an LDS kid, BYU is one of the best place to go to college to get ready for your mission, and there are just a lot of great people there. Even the people that aren't LDS that go there are great people. Mission-wise, it's a great school, and as far as looking past football, BYU is one of the best places to prepare you for that.

"I was talking to one of my teammates last year, Austin Heder, and he said that the reason why he chose BYU was because BYU is more than just football. BYU is one of the best academic schools in the country and as far as spiritually, I mean, you can never go wrong with BYU. I think BYU is just an all-around great school for people who grow up in Utah and especially for LDS kids. I like BYU a lot, so hopefully I'll be getting an offer from them soon."

Obviously, an offer from BYU would mean a lot to Fanaika.

"That would give me the option of staying in-state," he said. "Obviously, there's Utah, but with BYU going independent, I see BYU being a huge, huge offer. I just need to keep working hard and hope for the best."

Fanaika said he will for sure be at BYU's summer camp in June.

In the meantime while he waits, Fanaika has been able to speak with some of the Cougar coaches that have been assigned to his recruiting area.

"Yeah, Coach DuPaix has been the one recruiting me," Fanaika said. "He's actually new this year but he's doing a great job. He stays on top of things and one of the best things I like about him is he's so easy to get along with. He's a great guy and I can tell he really wants me up there.

"He works really hard to keep me in contact with all the coaches up there at BYU. I just really think he's doing a great job up there, and he's also a really great, great guy. He's one of the more optimistic coaches that I've ever talked too. I'm looking forward to building a stronger relationship with him."

DuPaix isn't the only Cougar coach that Fanaika has been in contact with.

"I kept in close contact with Coach Doman and also with Coach Weber, BYU's offensive line coach," said Fanaika. "They actually came down to my school last week. It was really good to see them there. They watched us go through some running drills, and they said they were really happy with what they saw in me."

Last month, Fanaika drove down to BYU and visited with the Cougar coaching staff.

"I got a chance to watch the team lift and then I was able to sit down with Coach Weber. He asked me what I thought about BYU and if I was one of those mission guys and I told him that I was. I found out that Coach Weber wasn't LDS and I thought that was neat because he's at BYU. He was very forward with all of that stuff and we had a great talk.

"He said the reason they haven't offered is because they wanted to make sure it was the right decision. They want to make sure that BYU is right for me and that I'm right for BYU. I took that as a way in which they're looking out for me. I gladly took his advice and look as that as a way for me to work harder.

"I took his advice and will use that to the best of my ability. So we had a good sit-down talk and I told him that BYU is a great environment and would be a great experience. BYU is a big deal for me, and I think going there would be great. Everything that I could ever ask for is right there at BYU."

In terms of character, Fanaika is humble, well-spoken and has his priorities straight. He comes from a great family and understands that football might not always be there forever, but there are things that a good college experience can provide him that will.

"Growing up, my parents have always taught me that education comes first," he said. "When I go to college I want to make sure that I get a good education to take full advantage of the experience. Having college paid for definitely works to my advantage.

"On top of that, being able to play football is just an honor. It's an honor to get letters from colleges from around here and to be able to talk with many college coaches. In college, I want to go to a program that will help expand my understanding of the game. I definitely want to take full advantage of what college will have to offer."

Fanaika would definitely appreciate what a scholarship from offer would mean.

"Yeah, for me to get a scholarship from BYU would be a great, great honor," he said. "BYU is just one of a kind."

In terms of uniqueness, BYU has joined Notre Dame, Navy and Army as one of the only independent college football programs in the country. Fanaika believes that this will allow BYU to play a national schedule that will further expose the mission of BYU to a greater portion of the country.

"With them going independent, I think that is one of the best and greatest moves they could make. I think it will allow BYU to give our church more national exposure through the football program. I think it's great that they're doing that because I think it will expose people back East and down in the South more to what the LDS faith is all about.

"It will help with missionary work and I think they'll be blessed for it. I definitely think it will help make the missionaries that serve in the areas where BYU will play a lot easier. I just think that BYU going independent is one of the best moves they could make. It's only going to help them more and it's a really great move."

Fanaika does plan on following his older brother Jason Fanaika, who is a tight end currently at Utah State, in serving a mission. Fanaika plans on graduating from Pleasant Grove early next year, during the month of January, so he can attend the next spring and fall camp at the college level. He wants to get his feet wet first with the college experience before serving.

"Yeah, I definitely want to serve my mission," he said. "That's definitely a big part of my plans. I'm going to try and get everything in line and graduate a little bit early. The main thing I want to do is get a feel for college before I go on my mission. I don't want to go on my mission and be completely oblivious to the expectations of college life. I want to go to college early but leave on my mission prior to the season so I can preserve my redshirt year. That way I can come back and use my redshirt year to get back into shape and prepare my body for that level of competition."

Needless to say, Fanaika is anxiously waiting for that coveted BYU offer.

"I want to definitely tell Coach Mendenhall and the rest of the staff that a BYU scholarship would be one of the greatest honors that would ever have been given to me," he said. "I've discussed it with my parents and they're also big BYU fans, and so as far as me being honored with a scholarship from BYU would not only be a blessing to me but to my parents and the rest of my family as well. It would obviously be one of the biggest offers that I could receive in terms of my standards and in the things that I stand for. Hopefully it will happen."

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