Takitaki interested in BYU

The Cougar coaching staff has very few scholarships to give for the class of 2014, so their evaluation of prospects across the country will be a little more meticulous. Such is the case with an athlete from Heritage High School in Menifee, California who recently spoke with Cougar coaches.

Ever since he was a freshman in high school, Sione Takitaki has taken road trips up to Provo, Utah to attend BYU's summer camp. A member of the LDS faith, Takitaki grew up following BYU sports.

"Man, BYU is a great place to be," said the Heritage High School junior. "I had a lot of fun up there and it's really nice. There's a great community up there and there's a special bond among the coaches and players up there.

"I love BYU and that's why we went to the summer camps. We didn't really go to any other camp because BYU was our school growing up. It was all about BYU football and BYU basketball. You know, just growing up around that made me want to go there."

At 6 feet 3 inches and 240 pounds, Takitaki doubles as a fullback and a pass-rush defensive end. His athleticism is evident when watching his film, and his size makes him a good candidate to play Will outside linebacker. He also has the frame to add 25 pounds and possibly play defensive tackle. Recently he was contacted by the Cougar coach responsible for developing great outside linebackers, Coach Kelly Poppinga.

"Coach Poppinga wrote me on Facebook saying, ‘We as a coaching staff really like you,'" Takitaki said. "He wanted me to give him a call, so I gave him a call. He told me that they really liked me and that they wanted to offer me. I was pretty excited about that. My coach also told me to call up BYU, so I did and talked to Coach Mendenhall."

During their conversation, Coach Mendenhall offered Takitaki a full-ride scholarship to play football.

"Man, I've been waiting for a BYU offer since I came out there two years ago," said Takitaki. "I wanted to get an offer from them, so to get an offer from them is a real blessing. We were talking about church and how important it was to go to church and if I was going to go on my mission. He told me that if I did go on my mission that I could come back and go to BYU and play football. He said they would have a scholarship for me when I got back. It was good man and we had a good talk."

BYU has very few scholarships left to extend for the class of 2014, so the fact that the coaches offered Takitaki is a testament to what they think of his athletic abilities.

"Coach Mendenhall doesn't really have many offers for the 2014 class, but he told me that they really want to offer me," said Takitaki. "I really thought that was really cool that he felt that way about me. It was an honor."

However, as of now Takitaki would more than likely have to serve a mission first prior to receiving an official BYU scholarship, given the current 2014 scholarship shortage.

"I told Coach Mendenhall that right now if I feel the Spirit to go on my mission, I will," said Takitaki. "I'm not sure right now but if I feel I need to go on my mission, then I'll go. I just have to keep going to church, and my mom wants me to go on my mission.

"I have to talk it over with her and then pray about things like this and get an answer before I make a final decision. Coach Mendenhall was saying that they would like me to go on a mission and then they'll have a scholarship for me when I get home."

So the offer to Takitaki is currently based on whether or not he goes on a mission. There still is a chance that a scholarship might be freed up at some future time, and if that is the case, then a mission-first proposition might not be necessary.

In the meantime Takitaki is working to keep his grades up and will go through a personal process of deciding whether or not to serve a mission.

"Before I wasn't really a class kind of guy," Takitaki admitted. "Ever since I've been being recruited by colleges I've taken the classroom more seriously. Now I'm trying to get my grades up to get to BYU. I still have to decide about serving a mission first like I talked about with Coach Mendenhall. In time I should figure it out."

Takitaki currently has offers on the table from San Jose State and Washington State, with more surely to come.

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