The best Father's Day gift a son could give

Last Sunday, sons across the nation celebrated and honored their fathers with praise, adoration and gifts. It's a day in which the hearts of the sons are turned to their fathers with expressions of love for their many sacrifices for them. Last Tuesday, a son of a hardworking father gave the best Father's Day gift he could give.

It began last Saturday on June 18, the day before Father's Day. Jherremya Leuta-Douyere hopped into a car with his high school teammate Butch Pau'u and Butch's father Uepi with nothing more than a few things packed in a bag and a heart full of hope. He said goodbye to his father Richard, and started the 700-mile drive to BYU.

"My dad sent me out and I left on Saturday, so I wasn't home for Father's Day," Leuta-Douyere said.

On Monday, Leuta-Douyere set out with one thought in mind. He was going to lay it all out on the line with the purpose of earning a scholarship offer and giving his father a special Father's Day gift.

"The camp was great," Leuta-Douyere said. "Everything about the campus and the coaches was really good. They worked me hard and I got a chance to show them what I could do."

After a full day on Monday of dominating other prospects and scholarship hopefuls, and wowing coaches with his physical prowess, Leuta-Douyere was called into Coach Mendenhall's office after a half day of performing on Tuesday.

"[Mendenhall] shook my hand, looked me straight in the eyes and said, 'It would be an honor to coach a player like you,'" Leuta-Douyere said. "That's when he handed me the scholarship. It was a great honor to me and I was so excited and really shocked."

Leuta-Douyere accomplished the thing he set out to do: earn a scholarship offer from BYU.

"I was just relieved and just really loved my experience up there," Leuta-Douyere said. "I'm just so excited and grateful for the offer Coach Mendenhall gave me to go to BYU and it really helped me think about my future and what it would be like if I go there.

"Coach Mendenhall told me that he knows that I have to go back home and discuss it with my parents. He told me that he's here for me and to give him a call whenever I come up with the news."

While football is often a why reason young men are able to attend college, an often overlooked aspect of college is the lifelong lessons that will shape lives long after they play their last snap of football. Leuta-Douyere understands this well, and it's why his gratitude for his BYU scholarship is both deep and meaningful.

"I think it would be a great blessing for me to go there because it really fits me well with who I am, not only sports-wise with football, but the kinds of influences it will have on my life in general," he said. "I think by going to BYU, it would help me grow in other ways outside of football.

"I believe I would grow in my own personal faith, because that's expected of you from the coaches, and I know I would get that great education that I'm looking for. All the things that would allow me to become a better man and a better person, by helping me mold my character and become closer to God, comes with being a part of BYU.

"It's through BYU's football program that I have the opportunity to learn discipline, hard work and learn how to become a better football player, but it's through what everything else that BYU has to offer that will help me become more than just a great football player."

After speaking with Coach Mendenhall, Leuta-Douyere's thoughts turned home, where his father was waiting.

"I called my dad and said, 'We did it dad, happy Father's Day 'Here's your Father's Day gift.' He was just so happy and proud of me and said, 'Son, all that hard work paid off and I'm so proud of you. Just don't be a person who goes around and brags to everyone. Just stay positive and be humble.' He was just grateful that I went out there to BYU for the right reasons.

"It's just incredible! I don't know, I can't really describe the feeling. I don't know, it's just amazing. It's an incredible feeling. I can't really thank anyone else but God. It was just an unreal moment and I've never had anything like that happen to me before. I can't think of any other way to honor my father. He's worked so hard for me, and just to be able to give something back to him, especially a scholarship offer from BYU, was a great Father's Day gift.

"You know, I really don't see anything like BYU anywhere else. Other colleges are just there to focus on football and the sports aspect, but at BYU that's not just the only focus. It's about being the best in every aspect: football, education and as people. I don't really see that kind of focus at any other school other than at BYU."

After receiving his scholarship offer and calling home to honor his father, Leuta-Douyere jumped back into the car for the long drive home. He left BYU grateful for the man that gave him a unique opportunity to be a part of his program.

"I'm just grateful for Coach Mendenhall," Leuta-Douyere said. "He's the type of guy that is really soft-spoken, and you can tell he's not just there to help you become the best football player you can be. You can tell he's there to help you become better as a person. He really focuses on a bigger picture and the morals and values of the school and his religion. He talks the talk and walks the walk as an example, and that's one really good thing about Coach Mendenhall. He's not just there to coach football, but he's there to be a father figure to us as young men."

Leuta-Douyere will discuss the future not only with his family, but another family as well.

"My family and Butch Pau'u's family is going to get together later this week and discuss about going to BYU," Leuta-Douyere said. "After that, we're going to come up with a decision right there."

Leuta-Douyere has already given his father Richard one of the best Father's Day gifts he could give him. Maybe sometime soon he'll call up a father figure in Bronco Mendenhall with another gift – a commitment to BYU.

"Well see, I'm really close to doing that," said an excited Leuta-Douyere.

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