Mama puts BYU on top of his list

At 6 feet 5 inches and 330 pounds, Damien Mama is a big prospect on the verge of becoming big-time. The 2014 offensive lineman recruit is receiving attention from a number of Pac-12 and SEC schools, but there is one school that has caught his attention for religious reasons.

He's still a junior in high school, but St. John Bosco High School (California) lineman Damien Mama, whose family comes from Samoa, already has the size and strength of a Division I player.

"I play offensive tackle and I would say one of my strengths is pass protection," said Mama. "I move well for my size and I like being physical and I think that's what a lot of coaches see in me.

"In the weight room, I squat close to 500 pounds and on the bench I put up around 380. I do pretty good in the weight room but I want to get stronger."

A California first-team all-state selection and league offensive lineman MVP, Mama is already receiving a lot of recruiting interest.

"I have offers from Colorado, Utah, Arizona and BYU," Mama said. "I'm talking to Washington, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Alabama a little bit and pretty much the whole Pac-12. I just have to thank God for the talents that He's given me and for the opportunities that I have."

The last two schools to have offered him are Arizona and BYU. When Coach Anae was a member of the Wildcat staff, he recruited Mama and built a relationship with him.

In fact, Mama was recently called into to his high school coach's office, where he was expecting to see Anae. Instead, he got a big surprise .

"What happened was I walked up into my coach's office and I turned to the right, and I saw two Arizona coaches sitting there," Mama said. "I was thinking, ‘Oh dang, where is Coach Anae?' because they were two coaches from Arizona. Then I looked to my left and saw a BYU jacket and I said, ‘Oh, okay.' Then I looked up and saw the face and thought, ‘Oh man! It's Coach Anae that's wearing the BYU jacket!'

"I was thinking he was still at Arizona, but I guess he got hired on at BYU," Mama continued. "Right there I already had a connection to BYU. He's LDS and that was a great thing with him being down at Arizona, but now that he's at BYU that's even more awesome."

Coach Anae let the St. John Bosco High School lineman know he was being verbally offered by BYU.

"I'm LDS, and so that was a big thing for me to be offered by BYU," said Mama. "That was big for me and pretty amazing. I wasn't really expecting him to offer me, but when he did that was a big thing for me because it's Coach Anae and he's at BYU.

"That's a big thing because he's LDS and the offensive line coach at BYU. When he was at Arizona, it got me thinking that maybe I would play for him because he's LDS. I was actually thinking about Arizona as one of my top schools because he was there. I thought that was pretty cool, but now he's at BYU and that's really neat and kind of capped it off. The fact that he's now at BYU is like icing on the cake. It's a big decision but I think that may help me in the decision I'm making."

Mama has had addition contact with Coach Anae since then.

"I talked to him on the phone not too long ago, and he let me know the difference between how BYU practices and other colleges," Mama said. "For me, it's important to respect the Sabbath day [and keep it] holy. I was asking Coach Anae a bunch of questions about what it's like at other schools, and he said that BYU respects the Sabbath day and how most of the other schools practice or play on the Sabbath day. That was a big thing for me. At BYU, they respect the Sabbath day. That just got me really excited."

Mama feels that if he chooses to go to BYU, he'll be able to represent much more than just a college.

"It's actually a great thing being LDS and being able to represent your family and faith," said Mama. "You get to represent the LDS people and playing for your church college makes a big statement."

Mama is currently thinking about serving a mission.

"The first thing Coach Anae said to me was, ‘You can go on your mission, then come back and play college football for us at BYU,'" Mama said. "I'm actually considering that. Right now I'm going to seminary early in the morning and I'm really thinking about that."

In the near future, Mama is planning on making an unofficial visit to BYU's campus to attend Junior Day.

"I haven't been on BYU's campus yet, but I talked to Coach Anae about coming up there for a Junior Day," Mama said. "I'm planning on coming up there and need to talk to Coach Anae about when that is."

Mama has a verbal offer, but once he makes an unofficial visit to BYU's campus, he'll have a chance to speak to Coach Mendenhall and receive an official written offer.

"Yeah, that's pretty exciting," said Mama. "BYU is up there and one of my top schools and I may consider it in the future. It really is a blessing and I'm excited about the opportunity that's been given to me."

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