Fakailoatonga likes BYU

Cottonwood High School's junior-to-be tight end Siale Fakailoatonga currently has two scholarship offers on the table, both from in-state colleges in BYU and Utah. Young and new to the recruiting process, Fakailoatonga knows what he likes and feels in his heart what he wants, but is a little cautious as to when he should have it.

Having just finished up his sophomore year of high school, 6-foot-4-inch wide receiver/tight end Siale Fakailoatonga has two current offers on the table.

"I have the two offers from BYU and Utah," said Fakailoatonga. "Colorado has been also looking at me, but that's pretty much it right now. It feels good and it gives me confidence to play better knowing you have schools looking at you. It's exciting."

A strong member of the LDS faith, Fakailoatonga views the offer from BYU as an attractive one.

"BYU is a great school and I love the coaches," he said. "The atmosphere down there feels great, and all the people down there are good. The fact that BYU is a LDS school makes it even better."

When asked the question, "What is it about Siale Fakailoatonga that made BYU want to offer him a full-ride scholarship offer," he took a deep breath and thought about it for a second before responding.

"I don't know, that's a good question," said a humble Fakailoatonga. "I've been working hard to get better as a football player and as a person. I guess I played well because after the seven-on-seven tournament at BYU I received an offer. I guess they liked what they saw in me and offered.

"I guess it's also because BYU has higher standards and is an LDS school. They look for young men who are worthy, I guess, and have morals and standards. I guess those are some reasons why they've offered me and feel that I'm worthy of a scholarship."

The BYU coach that first spotted the potential of Fakailoatonga was tight end coach Lance Reynolds. Coach Reynolds met with Fakailoatonga after a camp and the two got to know each other better.

"Coach Lance Reynolds is the guy that got me started up there," Fakailoatonga said. "The first camp that I went to up there, he pulled me aside and complemented me on stuff, telling me how good I could be.

"He met with me after the camp and was talking to me more. He's a great coach and was talking to me about how different BYU is than any other school. He's a funny guy and when I was sitting in his office he was cracking jokes. It was just fun hanging out with him and getting to know him."

A shy and unassuming Fakailoatonga admitted that he was a bit overwhelmed when he was called into Coach Mendenhall's office.

"It was me, Coach Reynolds, Coach DuPaix and Coach Reynolds in the room with Coach Mendenhall," said Fakailoatonga with a laugh in his voice. "Oh my gosh, I was so nervous! I was just so nervous. I don't know, Mendenhall is an intimidating guy. He just asked me these questions and I just tried my best to answer them. It was kind of scary.

"He asked me questions about BYU and about the type of standards you have to have to go to BYU. He asked me what I thought was different about BYU than any other school. I was keeping my answers short. I was too nervous to say anything and my voice was shaking."

Apparently, Coach Mendenhall recognized that the young man sitting in his office was a bit nervous, and did his best to put him at ease.

"Yeah, he was laughing and took my answers pretty well," Fakailoatonga said. "He knew I was nervous and he said he could tell I was nervous. He told me that it wasn't bad to be nervous at that time because most people are nervous at that time. It kind of eased my nerves a little bit. He took my answers pretty well even though they were probably dumb."

Apparently, Coach Mendenhall didn't think his answers were all that dumb. Fakailoatonga was evaluated both in ability and character and found worthy of a scholarship offer to play football at BYU.

"I've dreamt about this a lot," Fakailoatonga said. "BYU is a topnotch school and their football program is amazing too. It would be an honor to go there. My mom went to BYU Hawaii and I think it would be great to go there."

After Fakailoatonga received his offer, he received a warm congratulation from Coach Reynolds.

"He was really happy for me," Fakailoatonga said. "He was talking to me a lot and how they utilize the tight ends within the offense and how it's a great place for me to be."

As an LDS athlete and tight end, Fakailoatonga agrees that BYU would be a great place to be. One of Fakiloatonga's college football idols is former BYU NCAA Consensus All-American tight end Dennis Pitta. He grew up watching Pitta dominate as one of the best tight ends in college football.

"I've always watched BYU games and watched Dennis Pitta," Fakailoatonga said. "I would always sit there and wonder if one day that would be me. I don't know, BYU is just one of my favorite schools."

The reason BYU is one of his favorite schools is because of what the school stands for outside of football.

"BYU is way different than other colleges," Fakailoatonga said. "I went to their Junior Day and that was different than anything that I've ever seen. It was different than any other college that I've been to.

"They care about the football part and the great football tradition they have there, but they would rather see the person that they are recruiting become more successful in life. They're not playing football just to play football. They're playing for something bigger, and I believe it."

When it comes to the football field, BYU's rich tight end tradition is hard to match. It's a position that grew in prominence as BYU's new west coast offense swept through college football and the NFL ranks.

"They're recruiting me as a tight end, and I was shocked and it's just a great opportunity for me," Fakailoatonga said. "Just like Dennis Pitta, and other tight ends that have come through BYU, it's a great opportunity to become an amazing football player. It's just amazing to me that BYU has even noticed me. I never thought that they would even notice me, but I guess they did."

When Fakailoatonga finally made it home from BYU, he told him mother what he had accomplished.

"I walked in through the door and told her, 'BYU offered me,'" he said. "She kind of looked at me like, 'I don't believe you' kind of thing. After a while it kind of sunk in and she was so happy. She was talking to me about it and about if I wanted to commit to BYU or not."

Fakailoatonga often talks with his mother about what he should do.

"She was really proud of me," he said. "She wants me to be happy and wants me to think about it more so I don't make a decision that I'll regret. We've been talking a lot about it and she's really happy about the offer that I've gotten.

"It's something that we talk about and every time she drives me to football every day she keeps saying, 'You need to think about where you're going to commit because you don't want it to get too late.' I do think about it every day and what I'm going to do."

Wanting to serve a mission, the overly cautious Fakailoatonga doesn't think committing to play football for his church college would be a decision he would regret in the end.

"No, I don't think I ever will regret it if I do commit to BYU," he said. "I don't think I would ever regret it. Me and my mom talk about this every day but we still haven't come up with a solution. BYU is like the perfect place for me, but I don't know if I'm too young to be committing right now. I don't really know what to do because I'm kind of clueless about this stuff. I'm going to start praying a lot more about it I think."

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