Takitaki considering BYU

Southern California two-way athlete Sione Takitaki now has seven scholarship offers on the table. The LDS athlete from Heritage High School is both a speed rush defensive end and a tailback who bulls his way through Inland Empire talent. He wasn't able to attend BYU's recent Junior Day activities, but that hasn't decreased his interest in the Cougars.

Colleges such as BYU, Arizona, Nevada, San Jose State, Washington State and Wisconsin have extended an offer to Sione Takitaki. Other colleges such as Boise State, Utah and Washington are showing interest. In regards to BYU, Takitaki says things are going really well.

"They're just still opening up their arms to me and letting me know that I have a home there," said Takitaki. "They told me that if I wanted to take my time, to take my time and there is no rush. They're just helping me to see what the school provides me for my future and things like that, you know what I mean? Other than that I'm just enjoying the summer!"

Although he is now enjoying the summer, Takitaki hasn't been sitting idly by. He's been preparing for his senior season of high school football.

"I tried to cut like five pounds off my weight because I'm just trying to get faster," said Takitaki. "I'm going to be playing on both sides of the ball this next year, and I really just want to be faster and improve my acceleration. I'm around 6'3", 235 pounds now and just staying fit."

That size is suited more for a middle linebacker than a defensive lineman, but Takitaki contends that BYU wants him as a lineman.

"Yeah, they're still recruiting me to play defensive line," he said. "I could play outside linebacker or whatever but I think they want me to play on the d-line as a rush end."

The Cougar coach recruiting Takitaki has been Coach Poppinga, who has done a great job.

"I've just been talking to Coach Poppinga when I can and give him a call just to say what's up," said Takitaki. "We'll communicate through emails and on Facebook and things like that. He just tells me to finish strong and make sure that I check into BYU and do some background checking. He wants the best for me and that guy is a good guy."

While he wasn't able to make it up to BYU's Junior Day, and won't be able to attend BYU's summer camp, Takitaki has attended summer camps at BYU in past years. He's happy knowing that the man who once coached him on the practice field is the one now recruiting him.

"I met [Poppinga] at the camp when I was out there before and we connected back then," Takitaki said. "I didn't come out there this year but I came out there for two camps in previous years. I remember Coach Poppinga because he was with the linebackers at the camps and I remember him coaching us. He's a good guy and a good coach, and it's cool that he's the one recruiting me now."

While Takitaki wasn't able to attend Junior Day, one recruit that did was outside linebacker Tyler Cook.

"Oh yeah, Tyler Cook lives really close to me," said Takitaki. "It's good that BYU is recruiting him and he's a really good player. He's just over in the next town from me, so it's cool that BYU's recruiting him because I've been looking into who has been going where. I've been checking out what players have been going where and things like that, so it's good that Tyler Cook is being recruited by BYU."

Takitaki mentioned that he does plan on visiting BYU again at some point in time.

"Yeah, I really want to take one of my trips out to BYU," said Takitaki. "I want to come out there and check things out, so I want to take one of my trips out there and check everything out and see all the coaches and stuff like that."

While Takitaki would like to visit BYU later in the year, he might have chosen his future college by then.

"Well, to tell you the truth I'll probably make a decision before October," Takitaki said. "I'll probably make a decision about that by the end of the summer."

Takitaki holds BYU in very high regards primarily because of the influences and high standards found there.

"Man, everything is positive about BYU and my mind has never changed," Takitaki said. "BYU is a great school and it's my church school. It's a Mormon school and that's what I am. It's a good environment to be in, and if you go there you shouldn't mess up but should be focused. There shouldn't be any problems with you making it."

About four years ago, Takitaki said goodbye to his father Vai, who passed away from health complications. As a strong member of the LDS faith, Vai always sought to teach his children the values of their religion. Now that Takitaki is being recruited by BYU and other colleges, he wishes his father was there to council him through the process.

"Man, I wish I had his opinion right now going through all this," said Takitaki. "To tell you the truth, I think he would love for me to go to BYU. It's a Mormon school, and knowing how strong he was in the Church, I'm pretty sure he would want me to go to BYU."

His mother Peau has similar feelings about BYU.

"My mom wants me to go to BYU, mainly because it is a church school and she knows they would always be on me," Takitaki said. "I would always be going to church, so she really thinks BYU is for me. At the same time she wants me to take my time and be sure that every option out there is open."

Takitaki's cousin Aleva Hifo, who is a two-sport athlete, could be playing on the varsity team at Heritage High School next year as a sophomore. Takitaki is hoping that BYU will offer his younger cousin a scholarship in the near future.

"Man, Aleva is doing really good!" Takitaki said. "I just want BYU to offer him because he's a beast! I really want them to jump on him early because he's going to be a really good player. He's also a big-time BYU fan and that's where he wants to go, so it would be good if he gets an offer from them."


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