Strong o-lineman to compete for scholarship

There are four prospects from Cottonwood High School that BYU is taking a serious look at. With one, Siale Fakailoatonga, already in possession of a scholarship offer, two others are going to attend BYU's Junior Day in hopes of receiving the same.

BYU fans already know of one of the two others attending BYU's Junior Day – Inoke Lotulelei, who hopes to receive a BYU offer despite having committed to UCLA last week. The other is offensive lineman Niniva Kinikini, who has been receiving a lot of recruiting attention as of late.

"Recently I've talked to Utah State, and Stanford has talked to me," Kinikini said. "They called me last Thursday and were telling me how that they signed such a good o-line class last year that they're waiting to give one or two scholarships this year. They said they're waiting to give them out during their camp."

The Stanford coaching staff has shown some good interest in Kinikini.

"They said they remembered me from last year and really want me to come out to their camp," he said. "They pretty much said that if I come out and do what I did last year, that I'll have an offer from them, but even once you get an offer from them you still have to go through the admissions process."

BYU's coaching staff also keeps in contact with Kinikini.

"BYU still keeps in contact every week and so I'm still talking to them quite a bit," he said. "Coach DuPaix does a good job in keeping in contact with me at least once a week and is always in contact with me when he can, but I'm heading down to UCLA this Thursday and then when I get back I'm going up to BYU. So, hopefully that pans out."

This won't be the first time Kinikini has been down to Southern California. During spring break this year, the Cottonwood offensive lineman paid the Bruin campus an unofficial visit.

"I went out there for an unofficial visit during spring break and they told me that they want me out there for spring camp to see what I can do," Kinikini said. "I'm leaving Thursday and so I'll be out there this Saturday to compete out there. We'll see how it goes I guess."

He'll then return and participate at BYU's June 13 Junior Day.

"Yeah, I'm going to BYU's Junior Day the next Wednesday after I get back from UCLA," Kinikini said. "They said back in January that if I come out and do good, that they'll offer me a scholarship. They like me and they just want to get to know me better, so we've all been going up there quite a bit lately, so I think we've accomplished that. I'm just going to do good at their camp so hopefully they'll offer me."

When Kinikini says "we've all been going up there," he is also referring to tight end Siale Fakailoatonga, wide receiver Inoke Lotulelei and defensive end Elijah Tupai.

"We've all been up there when they had their spring camp around three times," Kinikini said. "We've been up there to hang out with the coaches and watch the practices. It's nice. I think all of us Cottonwood boys will be going up there."

At Junior Day, players are tested and compete for possible scholarships.

"We'll meet with Coach Weber and do technique and o-line stuff," Kinikini said. "Then the o-line and d-line will come together at the very end, and sometimes outside linebackers, and we'll do one-on-one drills."

Kinikini will almost certainly play on the offensive line in college.

"BYU, and pretty much everyone else like Utah State, UCLA and Stanford, is looking at me to play on the o-line," he said. "Utah is looking at me at either o-line or d-line."

Coming in at about 6 feet 3 inches and 270 pounds, Kinikini is a strong prospect and one of the strongest in the state of Utah.

"I do good in the weight room," he said. "I got second in the Bingham lift-a-thon competition. Some kid from Box Elder beat me in the squat. I don't know if he even plays football or not. He squatted 600 pounds and I squatted 465, thinking that I would be the number two. My max squat I got at school was 485, so I wanted to save my strength for the power clean. It was him, then me, and then Lowell [Lotulelei] as the top three in the state.

"I also got second in the power clean. The kid from Box Elder got 290 and I got 275. For my bench I got 315 and was kind of disappointed with that. It was an off day for bench for me. I was hoping to get 330 or 340. It was the very last event, but I'm not going to make any excuses or anything."

So when Kinikini heads down to BYU next Wednesday, he hopes to bring his power to bear in the hopes he can earn a Cougar scholarship.

"It's going to be my plan," said Kinikini. "I hope to perform well enough at all my camps to earn a scholarship. I'm hoping that BYU will just pull the trigger and we can be done with it."

Both Kinikini and Lotulelei – who had committed to UCLA this past week – are hoping that BYU will extend an offer.

"Yeah, we're both hoping that BYU will extend offers to us when we go up there next week," Kinikini said. "If we got there we know that Siale would easily come with us. He's always changing his mind and is on the line with Utah. He changes his mind a lot."

Fakailoatonga previously committed to Utah, but has since decided to evaluate his options more. One of those options is BYU.

"We could easily get him there," said Kinikini about Fakailoatonga and BYU. "It's just that Lowell is committed over there and another one of our o-linemen is committed over there, so he kind of feels like he has a teammate and friends over there. If me and Inoke committed to BYU, it's almost a positive he would come with us. I'm positive he would come."

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