Neil Pau'u on the rise

He might be the younger brother of BYU commit and top California linebacker Butch Pau'u, but he's definitely not smaller. At 6 feet 4 inches and 190 pounds, sophomore Neil Pau'u starts on Servite High School's junior varsity and varsity football teams and could be the next Pau'u to make some noise in Southern California.

"On Thursdays I play quarterback for our J.V. team here at Servite, and on Friday I play on the varsity team," said Neil Pau'u. "I started on the varsity team as a wide receiver ever since the Bishop Gorman game we played in Las Vegas. They tried me out during the Edison game and I did really well, so they started me for the Bishop Gorman week. Since then I've been starting."

Pau'u is the starting quarterback for the junior varsity team. Unlike Servite's varsity team, the junior varsity team came away with a victory over Bishop Gorman back on October 1 with a 28-21 score. He also led his team to a 32-10 victory over Oceanside and a 28-21 victory over Orange Lutheran.

The junior varsity team is 8-1, and Pau'u has yes to throw an interception.

When making a comparison to BYU quarterbacks Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps, Pau'u claims his style of quarterback play has similar qualities to both Cougar gunslingers.

"I can stand in the pocket and throw the ball, and because I play wide receiver I can take off and run it if I have to. When I scramble I keep my eyes downfield to see if someone is open to first make the pass, but if no one is open then I'll take off. It all depends."

On varsity, where his older brother and star linebacker Butch plays, Pau'u has also done well while getting his feet wet against strong upper-level competition.

"Playing wide receiver is fun actually," he said. "We work really hard and I didn't know how hard they worked until I started playing varsity. I thought the quarterbacks worked hard, but I have to give props to them because of how hard they work. In order to have a good team everybody has to work hard.

"While playing receiver, the ball isn't thrown to me as much because we run the ball a lot. I try to do other things to help with the offense. I usually go in there and get in the cornerback's head and play my heart out blocking and do whatever I can do."

But it isn't all just about blocking, as Pau'u has factored into the passing game a few times. However, things didn't go too smoothly in his first start, when he dropped a crucial pass.

"I could have had a touchdown against Gorman that probably would have won it," Pau'u said. "But the following week against Orange Lutheran I caught my first pass and it was fun. I had to redeem myself for that game and it was fun."

"He's doing alright … He's caught, like, two balls for a total of 40 yards," said Butch about his younger brother. "I think he's still trying to get used to the fact that at the varsity level everybody is probably as fast as you and that the game is played faster."

A sophomore, Neil Pau'u is receiving valuable reps on California's second-ranked varsity team and the nation's No. 19 team. With his size, speed and athleticism, it's reasonable to assume colleges will be keeping a close eye on him.

"I like USC just because I've always grown up watching them," he said. "Growing up, I've always watched them and liked watching Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and all those football stars. Growing up, I've always wanted to go to USC, but now that I've grown up they're just another college team."

With the shine of USC having worn off a bit in his eyes, Pau'u doesn't favor any program in particular.

"I really don't have a favorite college football team," he said. "I don't really have any favorites right now and just like everyone."

It appears Neil Pau'u is smart, having learned a thing or two from his older brother having gone through the college recruiting process. However, one has to believe that since his older brother is going to be a Cougar, BYU is a program of interest for him.

"I went to the BYU camp and it was fast paced and they keep everyone working," Pau'u said. "They treat everyone the same and they don't let their star players go out easy. Coach Mendenhall is doing a great job over there and I'm just excited for my brother to go there. After his mission, I can't wait to just watch him."

He did admit that he wouldn't mind going to BYU.

"Yeah, I wouldn't mind going there as long as I got a scholarship," said a hopeful Pau'u. "I want to go to a school that allows me to go on my mission. That's the main thing."

Pau'u isn't sure he'll be able to attend any camps this next summer.

"I'm going to see what my parents have for money," Pau'u said. "We'll for sure be out there at BYU's camp if we can go. I'm hoping that's the case but we'll see."


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