Vaenuku visiting BYU this weekend

Defensive end Gaius Vaenuku from Trinity High School in Texas has cancelled his plans to visit Colorado. Instead, scheduled a visit with BYU and will take an official visit out to Provo, Utah to see if BYU is a place where he would like to play.

With one down, Gaius Vaenuku has three more official trips to go.

"I've already taken one trip to Missouri," Vaenuku said. "I have a few other trips lined up and I'm taking one to BYU this weekend. Then next weekend it's going to be Utah, and then after that TCU."

Vaenuku called up the coaches of BYU and asked to set up an official trip. He'll board a plane Friday and fly to Utah, where he hopes to learn more the unique options provided by his church college.

"I want to look at the kind of education I can get when I'm up there," he said. "I want to see what their education is like and what they have to offer. I also want to see how they work things around their program. When I went up to Utah for an unofficial, they worked things around the family, you know? I want to see what BYU does and how the team interacts with each other and see what the environment is like. Down here at Trinity we have a great relationship with our coaches, so I want to see what the relationship between the players and the coaches is like."

A member of a Tongan family strong in the LDS faith, Vaenuku followed BYU while growing up.

"When I was younger, BYU was always my dream school. I don't know much about BYU other than it's my church school, but I know the football team is great," Vianuku said. "I haven't really taken any visits to know what they do over there and what they're about. I'm kind of looking forward to going out there so I can learn more about.

"Wen I was growing up I followed BYU because I'm Mormon and it's our church school, so my family always liked BYU and followed the football team because of that. I loved BYU growing up and my whole family loves BYU because of the whole church thing."

Last summer Vaenuku wasn't really on the Cougar recruiting radar simply because there was an issue of whether or not he would meet BYU's high GPA qualifications.

"They hadn't really talked to me until the end of this year, so that kind of threw things off with me," Vaenuku said. ‘They asked me to take an official, so I set up this weekend to do that. I was supposed to go to Colorado this weekend, but I moved them out of the plans and replaced them with BYU to give them a chance. So, now I'm looking at BYU instead.

"When I was up there in Utah over the summer, BYU told me that I had to have a good ACT or a 3.5 GPA in the classroom. Utah was just recruiting me as normal, so when I came back to Trinity after all the camps I really pushed myself harder in the classroom. I worked harder than I had all my previous years and was able to raise up my core GPA and my ACT score. My ACT test score is a 24. I think by raising my grades and doing a lot better is why BYU has been recruiting me harder now."

How things can change. At one time Vaenuku wasn't concerned about the classroom, but had his eyes squarely set on football. Now that is no longer the case, and is more than likely why BYU has reentered the recruiting picture.

"Yeah, Coach DuPaix is the one recruiting me, and the first place he came when he came down here was to visit me," Vaenuku said. "I thought that was really neat. He asked me if I could help them beat Notre Dame, and, you know, I can help a team out, but that's not really my main concern. My main concern is getting an education. I was really concerned about the education part. I want to go to a place that has a great education before anything else. The football part is great and everything, but I want to get the education part down first before the football part. With football, I'll do my part but I want to take care of the degree part first and foremost.

"Football is always going to be there, but things might not work out with football," Vaenuku continued. "You know, what if you don't go to the NFL? You always have to have a backup plan, and having a degree to fall back on is that backup plan. That's why I want to get a degree, because you can get that, while playing football isn't always a sure thing."

The University of Utah has been recruiting Vaenuku for some time now, and during the process the coaches have taken a very BYU-like approach to recruiting LDS athletes.

"Utah gave me a good offer and they said I could go on a mission, of course," Vaenuku said. "They also have offered me a good education. I'm also looking for a good atmosphere to be around where people treat you right. Utah has really helped me to prepare me for my mission. Morgan Scalley will send me messages and inspirational talks to read. I'll read them and pray about things, so it's been really helpful."

Vaenuku has a strong desire to serve a mission following his graduation from Trinity High School.

"Yeah, I really want to serve my mission and I plan on going right after I graduate from my high school," said Vaenuku. "I want to go to Germany and have been taking German classes here and love everything about the country. I'm not fluent but I can understand when someone speaks German to me. I just think Germany would be the perfect place for me to serve."

Meanwhile, Vaenuku plans on committing to a college soon.

"Yeah, it's a possibility," Vaenuku said. "I'm basically holding everyone even right now until after all my official visits. I'm going to make my final decision on the 27th of this month, but it will be after all my visits. I'll make my decision after I get a good look at what my options are, so right now all the schools are the same. It's just right now Utah has shown the most love, so that could come into play, but it just depends on how all the official visits go."

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