Fusi talks "cracking heads" at BYU

He was the surprise signee on LOI day. However, it appears Fusi wasn't much of a mystery to Coach Garett Tujague, who had at one time coached against him. Fusi was fast on the path to being one of the top junior college centers before suffering a season-ending injury early last season, but now Coach Mendenhall and his staff have given Fusi another chance to play the sport he loves.

Edward Fusi wasn't heavily recruited out of high school due to not taking all the right core classes needed to qualify, so he went out to Mt. San Antonio College in the spring of 2008 and decided to give football a try.

"The coaches really loved me at center," Fusi recalled. "I was trying to think, ‘Should I or should I not play?' I was trying to decide if I even wanted to play football back then."

While mulling over the option to play football, Fusi was counseled by a family member that BYU fans are familiar with.

"I was trying to decide if I should play football or not, and that's when my cousin Hebron [Fangupo] just told me that I should just go on my mission and come back," Fusi said, referring to his cousin who played for BYU in 2011 after transferring from USC. "I was talking to my cousin Loni – most people know him as Hebron Fangupo – and he was telling me that I should go. So that's what I did. I went on my mission and then I came back and played football at Mt. SAC after my mission."

Following his mission, Fusi put on the football pads and began working out with the Mt. SAC team in 2011.

"My freshman year I was named an All-American as an offensive lineman in 2011," Fusi said. "I did really well after coming off my mission and had a great season and was named an underclassman All-American and an all-conference player and all that."

After one year of junior college ball, Fusi's dominant play immediately got him noticed by some top football programs around the country.

"My coaches told me that Alabama was looking at me and Ole Miss was also looking to recruit me," Fusi said. "Auburn was sending me letters and so was Nevada. I talked to Fresno State and a lot of other colleges in the Pac-12 and other places."

After a standout freshman season, Fusi's sophomore year looked very promising as attention had already began to pour in. However, things soon took a turn for the worst.

"I had an ACL injury after the third game this past season, so most schools passed me up after that," said Fusi. "I kind of fell off the radar because of my injury this past season. It was pretty hard for me."

Many of the coaches that took interest in him evidently lost interest, but there was one coach that still remembered him all too well after facing him on the field of play. After being hired on as a new member of BYU's coaching staff, Coach Tujague went out and immediately started looking for Fusi.

"Coach Tujague came over and was looking for an offensive lineman," said Fusi. "They called my phone the whole time but I had lost it, so they were calling around and called my house to talk to me about BYU football. I finally was able to reach them and talk to them, but they were looking for me for a little while. I was just really shocked that he called.

"He said he saw me on film my first year when I played against him. He was the coach out at [College of the Canyons] and really liked how I played. He said he saw my film and really liked what he saw. When he came to me he wanted me to come out on a trip. It was humbling and an honor."

Fusi had just had surgery and was on the mend when he was paid a visit by Coach Tujague, who visited his him and his family over at his home.

"I had my knee scooped, but Coach Tujague came over to my house and he told me that he wanted to fly me out to BYU that week for a trip. I was really surprised and excited because I thought I was pretty much done with football after that. It was exciting and really kind of caught me off guard. He told me he wanted me to come out to BYU. So, I flew out for an official visit. I was really excited after that because everything changed for me."

On short notice, Fusi flew out to BYU for an official recruiting visit.

"When I went out there for the official visit, I met with Coach Mendenhall in his office," said Fusi. "Coach Mendenhall is such a great man. He told me that he wanted me to come to BYU and he offered me a scholarship. I committed to him that day and now I'm going to play football for BYU. I was really excited and just grateful that he and Coach Tujague have given me a chance to play football again."

As mentioned earlier, Fusi is LDS and his cousin played for BYU. But, there were some other big reasons why he wanted to play football for BYU.

"I have a cousin that goes to BYU and he told me that BYU was a good place to go because of the academics," said Fusi. "I also have an uncle Henry [Tatapu], who I respect a lot, and he told me that it's always been one of his dreams to have one of his kids go to BYU. I had that chance to play for BYU, so I wanted to do that for him and my family.

"Also, my mom loves BYU. When BYU came over to my house she was really excited. When coach came over she was all excited! She said, ‘You have to go to BYU because that's the Church college. You went on a mission and you know the Church is true, so you have to go to BYU.' It was pretty funny and that was pretty much it right there. Now it's time to go put on that BYU helmet and go crack some heads."

Apparently one of Fusi's qualities that caught BYU's attention was his work ethic.

"I work really hard," Fusi said. "Even when I was injured I tried to work even harder just so I could stay in shape. I would say working out in the weight room and on the field is one of my strengths as a player. My freshman year at Mt. SAC I worked out twice a day and I would run before summer camp and before practice. I would try and run a mile and a half before we actually did our workouts and practices."

Fusi's combination of natural strength and work ethic have paid off in the weight room tremendously.

"The last time I maxed out it was the spring of 2012," said Fusi. "I did three reps on the bench with 400 pounds on the bar. Before I hurt my knee I squatted 495 pounds but stopped there. I could have done more but I didn't want to go any higher because I was afraid of getting injured."

Fusi is currently rehabbing his knee, and it would appear that he's ahead of schedule.

"My recovery is going really well," he said. "The trainers have me jogging again and I can do lighter squats and weights right now. I'm further along in my rehab than usual. I hope to be fully ready to go by the time I suit up at BYU. I want to get out there and crack some heads."

Cracking heads at BYU is what Fusi plans to do.

"Yup, that's what I'm going to do," Fusi said with a laugh. "I'm going to put on the blue and white and go crack some heads out there. I'm a pretty physical player, and now that BYU gave me the chance to play despite my knee injury, it just makes me want to work harder. This injury that I had was just a minor setback.

"When I get out there, I can't wait to show my potential and show more of what I can do. I really want to play this up-and-coming season. I really, really do. When I get out there I want to be ready and just put on that BYU jersey and helmet and go to work. Like I said, I'm excited to go out there and crack some heads."

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