BYU gets fourth commit in the last six days

First it was Sione Takitaki, followed by Tico Fuga. A few days later, 2015 linebacker recruit Will Sedgwick gave his word he would be a Cougar. Now, the latest BYU commit is 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound two-way Kansas prospect Earl Mariner.

Football runs in the Mariner family. In fact, Earl Mariner's older brother Tomasi played football at Kansas State, so one might think Earl would be a highly recruited prospect. However, his season got off to a tough start.

"Last year was a really hard year for me because I got hurt at the beginning of the year," said Mariner. "That's why my highlights aren't very good. I kind of went under the radar because my junior year was really bad because I got hurt."

His injury really limited his ability to perform.

"I got a really bad ankle sprain and then I messed up the ligaments," Mariner said. "I missed the first two games of the season, but then my coach really needed me to play so I toughened it up and tried to play. There were games where I couldn't even run because my ankle was hurting so bad."

However, Mariner said he is back to normal now.

"Oh, I'm good now and did a lot of physical therapy," he said. "I'm 100 percent now, and I'm so happy I'm all good now."

Healed and ready to go, Mariner headed out to Provo, Utah for a camp at BYU.

"At the camp, Coach Kaufusi was just helping me and telling me to work hard," Mariner said. "It was the first time I ever met Coach Kaufusi. He's a really nice guy and a really good coach. It was awesome and a good experience. It was my first time being in Utah, so the camp was hard because I wasn't used to the altitude. Despite that, I felt like I did my best and did really well. I wanted to do my best to show the coaches that I could play football, because I didn't have the best junior year."

Mariner's performance must have raised a few eyebrows. His performance at camp earned him a scholarship offer from Coach Mendenhall at a time in which available scholarships have become scarce.

"I got a scholarship after camp and committed," he said. "After the camp I had a meeting with Coach Mendenhall and he told me he was really interested. He told me that he wasn't sure if he would be able to offer me because there weren't a lot of scholarships available, so he told me to call him on Thursday. I called him on Thursday and he said he really wanted me to play for BYU, but the deal was I had to pay for my first semester.

"After the first semester I would have a full-ride scholarship waiting for me. I told him that's awesome and I really want to play for BYU. I was just like, ‘That's fine!' I was just so happy at the time. I just told him I'm a Cougar and committed to him. He told me he was excited for me and said, ‘Congratulations.'"

His commitment to BYU was welcomed news for Mariner's family.

"My mom was really excited that I got the offer," Mariner said. "Everyone out here was really excited. The best thing about it is I get to play with my cousin Travis [Tuiloma]. We used to live together when we were younger and had some great times growing up. Yeah, everyone is just really excited about this whole situation. I'm just so excited for the opportunity to play at BYU and go on my mission also. I'm just so excited."

Since January 25, 2012, Travis Tuiloma has been serving an LDS mission in Apia, Samoa – the islands where his family originally came from. News hasn't reached the missionary yet that his cousin has been offered and will also play football at BYU.

"No, he doesn't know anything about this yet," said Mariner with a laugh. "He'll know soon enough and will be excited about it."

Mariner not only will follow his cousin by playing football at BYU, but he'll also follow him in that he'll serve a mission.

"I plan on going on a mission right after I turn 18 and graduate from high school," Mariner said. "Then I'll come back and play football at BYU."

When he returns home from his mission, Mariner will have the opportunity to play on the defensive line, where Tuiloma played for a year prior to leaving on his mission.

"I bench 335 pounds and squat 450, so I'm pretty strong in the weight room," said Mariner. "I play both offensive and defensive line in high school, but Coach Kaufusi told me he wants me for defensive line. I think it's pretty cool because me and Travis will have that opportunity at BYU."

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