Connecticut linebacker visiting BYU

Flying out to BYU from Clinton, Connecticut will be a middle linebacker and tailback that Coach Poppinga has invited to attend Junior Day. The prospect hopes to showcase his football abilities at Junior Day and then later at a BYU camp in an effort to receive a scholarship offer.

Hunter Aiono of The Morgan School will be flying a long way just to attend next week's activities being held at BYU. However, it's an event the 6-foot-1, 220-pound athlete has been preparing for.

"My main position is middle linebacker and I play tailback too," said Aiono. "I've been working hard in the weight room. I bench around 285 pounds and squat about 435."

BYU outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga was the one to evaluate Aiono initially.

"Coach Poppinga just said that he saw my film and liked it," Aiono said. "After that he wanted me to come down to their Junior Elite Day on June 13th. This will be my first time to this event, so I'm really excited."

The invitation-only Junior Day will feature some top-quality football prospects hoping to prove themselves worthy of a scholarship. Aiono will be one of them vying for such a coveted prize.

"First of all I'm just really excited and really honored to be invited out there," said Aiono. "I know it's an invite-only event and I feel like it's going to be a really great experience for me, getting out there and playing with some kids with some good football skills."

BYU appeals to Aiono for various reasons, starting with his faith.

"Well, first of all I was raised up in a Mormon family," said Aiono. "For us Mormons, BYU is always the college that everyone mostly wants to go to. I've been to BYU's summer football camp last year and it was my first year playing middle linebacker. I really learned a lot from that camp and since then I've grown a lot. I had such a great time up there and I'm excited to get back there."

The middle linebacker prospect is also thinking of attending BYU's padded camp following the Junior Day activities, as well as the All-Poly Camp.

"I think this year I'll definitely try and be going to BYU's padded camp as well," Aiono said. "I went to that last year and had a great experience, so I want to try and go to that after the Junior Day. I also want to try and go to the All-Poly Camp that's going to be going on out there as well. I'm going to try and see if I can get to that too."

Recently, the Connecticut linebacker paid a visit to California and watched USC's spring game and visited Cal's campus. He also attended a Polynesian camp.

"I went to Oakland and I was in the 2012 Polynesian All-American Showcase," said Aiono. "It's run by the Aiga Foundation and is set up to help Polynesian kids go to college for football. It's a great foundation. We were divided up into group and put through drills. We did one-on-one drills, coverages, agility drill, and there were a lot of college coaches there watching. It was really good and I did really well there."

The Connecticut state motto is, "He Who Transplanted Still Sustains." This month, Aiono and his family will be moving from Connecticut to Las Vegas, where he will look to not just simply sustain his current football status but increase it through opportunity and exposure.

"Yeah, we're going to be moving out from Connecticut to Nevada on the 16th of June, and I've been talking to the Bishop Gorman High School and the head coach there," Aiono said. "He said he is definitely excited and all I need to do is get through admissions and go through that whole process. Hopefully I'll be able to join them during summer camp.

"Right now I'm in the process of getting my name out and getting recognized. I have received some stuff but it's from smaller schools inviting me to camps, but I'm not going to stop there because I'm looking at the Division I level."

Aiono will be moving down near the Pili family's neck of the woods.

"I've heard about the Pili family and about Trajan Pili and BYU," said Aiono. "If I'm not able to get into Bishop Gorman, then Centennial High School will be my next high school."

Meanwhile, Aiono has mission plans for down the road.

"I do have plans and have been preparing to serve a mission," Aiono said. "I'm 17 right now and my birthday is in October, so I'll play a season of football in college, then go after that. That's my plan for now."

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