BYU Offers Filiaga after Academic Doubts Allayed

With BYU football scholarships becoming more precious by the year, it was a welcome relief for Isley Filiaga, one of the two top defensive line recruits in Utah -- and possibly the strongest in the country, to receive an official offer this week from BYU.

He has already received offers from Nebraska, Utah and Arizona with dozens more colleges still recruiting him.

Filiaga's father Tui Filiaga, a part-time assistant strength and conditioning coach at BYU, confirmed to "I talked to Steve Kaufusi and he said they have an offer on the table. In fact, he got a letter too that said he's been offered from the Y."

Isley added: "They sent me three of them (letters). All of them were from Coach Crowton, but the verbal offer was from Coach Kaufusi."

Though his father works at BYU, Filiaga has not been particularly enamored with BYU for months because of their reluctance to offer him a scholarship -- even as they offered other top Utah prospects like Thor Pili and Ray Feinga

He has since learned the reasons.

"Yeah, they didn't really come after me because of my grades, but I understand now the reasons and why they didn't. It helped me to understand BYU a lot. It was good."

Filiaga's change of heart came after attending a week-long SOAR program last week at BYU for minority students that included workshops to teach them study habits and how to prepare for college and success.

"It was good. It's a multi-cultural program for kids to help them study for their ACT. I learned a lot on how to study in school and how to study for the ACT."

Filiaga's experiences during the SOAR program was an informative and positive one that has changed his perspective about BYU as a school.

"I'm going to take my trips, but the SOAR program helped me a lot to like BYU because I didn't really like BYU before. The SOAR program helped me to know and understand the school and how they work, so it helped me out a lot."

Filiaga's academic woes resulted when a number of credits were not recognized by Timpanogos High when he transferred from Timpview High after his sophomore year.

"Some of my grades didn't transfer over so we had to go talk to the school district about that," said Filiaga.

To make up some of those lost classes, Filiaga has been taking classes this summer to ensure he will be eligible to play football as a senior.

"He had to take an English and another elective class this summer. He also had to take a biology class," explained his father, adding, "he'll be ready."

Eager to help the young man in the classroom and on the field, the Timpanogos football staff are also working to assist and provide tutoring to help him pass his classes.

"The coaches at Timpanogos are awesome. They really go out of their way to help their student athletes; not only Isley, but all their players," noted Tui Filiaga. "To me, that is true coaching. They not only want to win, but they want to see their kids win academically too."

With many LDS athletes often serving two-year Church missions, academic ineligibility is something BYU coaches want to stay away from. They were stung by Mulivai Pula last year and are awaiting final determination to see if top defensive recruit Brian Soi will be eligible this fall.

Along with the LDS mission issue, BYU coaches want to make sure the student athletes they offer scholarships to are on track to graduate and be eligible to play -- and to avoid locking up or losing a valuable scholarship for one year that might otherwise be given to an athlete who would have qualified. Filiaga fell into this category for BYU, caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

With 15 sacks last year and exceptional strength, Filiaga showed why he was one of the top defensive line prospects when he bench pressed 225 pounds 36 times and ran a 5.0 forty.

He impressed other highly recruited athletes during the recent BYU summer camp.

"He's just really strong," said South Carolina offensive line prospect Terrence Brown. "He did it like 36 times. That is crazy."

Nick Alletto, another top offensive lineman prospect from Colorado who recently committed to BYU, also complimented Filiaga after pairing up against him during one-on-one drills.

"He's good. He's quick and really strong," said Alletto.

Filiaga said he will likely serve an LDS mission, which could determine which school he will attend.

"I probably will, but when the time comes for me to choose a college is when I'll think about it. But as of right now I'm just concentrating on school right now. I'm just concentrating on my grades."

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