BYU interested in California defensive end

The 2014 recruiting class has a lot of top talent that fits BYU's program. One prospect is rated the sixth-best defensive end in the nation by Scout, and has recently been in contact with the coaching staff of BYU.

While his profile shows seven offers, Nifae Lealao from Capital Christian School in Sacramento claims he has five at this current time.

"Well I already have five offers on the tables from Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Oregon State and Washington," said Lealoa. "I'm getting a bunch of interest from a lot of schools around the nation. I'm hearing from Oregon, USC, Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Duke, and [schools] in the Midwest like Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

"With the season being over, I'm not just going into basketball. Now is the time where I think I'm going to start making some unofficial visits. I went on a couple over the summer to USC, UCLA and Stanford, and those all went well. I received two offers over the season from UCLA and Cal, and after the season ended two weeks ago I haven't received any more offers."

Lealao is expecting more college opportunities to come in the near future.

"I'm 6'5" and I'm pushing 6'6". I don't know where I'll end up but I'm pretty much around 280 pounds right now," he said. "I've been gaining ever since I've been in high school. It's a healthy gain though and it's all good.

"I play offense and defensive line. Ever since my freshman year, I've played varsity. Mainly what I'm being recruited for is on the defensive line. On a lot of recruiting sites I'm ranked as a defense end and that's what I love to play. I love getting sacks, making tackles, and focus on making plays from the d-end position."

As a defensive end in 2012, Lealao recorded 87 tackles, six sacks, four blocked punts, three blocked field goals, two pass deflections, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

"That's my passion and that's where I'm being recruited for," he said. "I love making plays and I love being around the ball. A lot of coaches notice my get-off from the line and my pass rush. I'm pretty quick off the line and have great footwork for being a big man. Not a lot of big men have the footwork and speed that I possess. That's what I'm hearing from coaches."

Meanwhile, he's also been in contact with BYU.

"I actually just talked with them this past week," Lealao said. "I like them and I like a lot of other schools in the Pac-12. I know BYU is independent, but like a lot of other schools, they're highly interested in me.

"BYU hasn't offered me but they are highly interested in me. They just pretty much asked me about what it was that I'm looking for in a school. I just told them that I'm looking for the type of environment of the school, the kind of distance from home and things like that."

BYU asked Lealao about his faith, in large part because of the meaning of his first name Nifae.

"They showed interest in me and they asked me what my denomination was, I think mainly because my name is Nephi from The Book of Mormon, and so they were asking me about that," Lealao said. "They're really interested in me as a player and feel that BYU would be a pretty unique environment that would be perfect for a person like me and my character and my ability to blend in with the kind of people there at the school."

Although he is not LDS, Lealao's family has LDS roots.

"I don't practice it," Lealao said. "It was my father and his father and down that line, but there really isn't a continuation through me. I don't practice any Christian faith and I'm pretty much just non-denominational. I haven't really studied into the whole Mormon birth thing, so I don't really recall it even though my name is Nephi. I know it's ironic, but I haven't really. I haven't really studied what we are as far as a Christian faith."

A two-sport athlete, Lealao is hoping he can continue to play both football and basketball at the next level. It's something he's looking at during the recruiting process.

"I actually am interested in playing basketball as well as football in college," he said. "I kind of have the same passion for it and wanted to continue that throughout college."

According to Lealao, one school has extended him an offer with that possibility in mind.

"Stanford has given me the opportunity to do both, and that will put them higher priority on my list as I keep searching through all these schools," said Lealao.

Interestingly enough, Bronson Kaufusi, the son of BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi, will likely also try his hand at basketball following the football season.

"They never said anything about that," Lealao said. "That's really cool! Yeah, BYU has said that their school is a perfect setting for a kid like me, especially with the character level that I have. My ability that I have fits perfectly with their defensive line because they said that BYU has some of the best defensive linemen in the nation. It's known as one of the best. I was asking about the coaches, the environment, the campus and the university. They said it was everything I was looking for and now all I needed to do was come on campus and take a look. From their point of view it's one of the greatest.

"I kind of envisioned myself walking through their campus and seeing a day and the life of what it's like being at that school. If it's good, it's good. If it's not, it's not. Just on that line of critique, I just want to see how I fit in and I don't want to go too far away from home. I want to keep an open mind and see what schools are a good fit for me."

Lealao hopes to take a number of recruiting visits in the future.

"I'll probably take all of my official visits to the East Coast and just take unofficial visits to the schools more closer to home," he said. "We'll see how it goes. As far as now, until then I'll probably take some unofficial visits down to L.A. and I might take some unofficial visits to Utah depending how things go with basketball, because basketball is a little more busy with the schedule. As soon we have the ability to travel out farther we'll probably do that, but it will be more in my senior year. I do want to hit the Bay Area and check in on Cal and Stanford if I can. We'll see how it goes."

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