Fabuluje hoping to return to BYU

In 2010 Oakridge High School star defensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje committed to BYU. But after a short time in the program, he was granted a release so he could transfer to TCU and be close to family in Texas. Now the Big 12 honorable mention offensive tackle is applying to be admitted at a school he feels he never should have left.

One might call this story "There and Back Again," but the person making this hopeful journey is no small Hobbit. This tale involves former BYU signee Tayo Fabuluje, who redshirted in 2010 as a defensive lineman before then being granted a release by Bronco Mendenhall.

"I've always liked BYU and I loved the atmosphere," said Fabuluje. "My issue was more with me being young and listening to people that aren't relevant in my life right now and influenced me into believing something that I shouldn't have believed in. Me being young, I was naive in what they were saying and I kind of gave in to it and ended up transferring. I believed in something I shouldn't have believed in, being so young and naive."

Young and away from home for the first time, Fabuluje heeded the distant calls from family members back home. He gave in to their heartfelt persuasions and asked to be released by Coach Mendenhall. Unfortunately, those that shouted the loudest back in Texas are no longer an influence in Fabuluje's life at this point in time.

"People were saying, 'What are you doing at BYU?' and 'What are you doing?' They just couldn't accept the fact that I chose the place where I wanted to be, but I allowed myself to listen to the naysayers and it influenced me into transferring. Now that I'm older and more mature I know what the best place for me is. I felt like I made a mistake in transferring the first time, and, you know, I'm just trying to make amends right now."

After his release by Coach Mendenhall, Fabuluje accepted a scholarship from TCU head coach Gary Patterson and had to sit out during the 2011 season due to transfer rules. Last week he decided to leave TCU's football program for personal and private reasons. He quit the football team, but was never granted a release by Patterson.

"No, TCU didn't release me, so I can't have any contact with anybody," said Fabuluje. "They made it clear they weren't going to release me. In order for me to play somewhere else I had to leave school and apply as a regular student at another school."

Much like it was for Coach Mendenhall, it must be a difficult situation to grant a release for such a talented prospect. Fabuluje understands this and holds no grudges.

"He's just doing what he feels is right I guess," Fabuluje said about Patterson. "I can see where he's coming from. He's losing a player at a time in which it's hard to replace me, so I can see where he's coming from, but I have to do what's best for me. I left TCU and just have to live with it regardless."

Last season Fabuluje was a Big 12 honorable mention in his first year as a starter.

"It was my first year playing offensive tackle and I started off playing in all 13 games," Fabuluje said. "I played 10 games at left tackle and three at right. I'm at around 6'7" and three quarters, and played last season at around 315 pounds. I'll have to slim down for my next season, but I just took the bull by the horns and love to compete. I just took it and ran with it and got a couple awards with it out of the season.

"It took some adjustment going from attacking quarterbacks to protecting them, but it was fun. It was a good transition and I had good coaching. It was fun being in the Big 12 competing against top competition. I was just sort of getting my feet wet playing offensive tackle, having never played it before. I played either tight end or defensive end and did a pretty good job, having never played it before. The next time I do play, if that ever happens, I'm going to make the most of it and progress at being an offensive tackle."

While Fabuluje enjoyed his brief time at TCU, he also enjoyed his brief time at BYU.

"I mean, TCU is a great school, great teachers, great atmosphere and everything," he said. "It's just, I mean, had I not allowed people to influence me in a way that they did, I never would have been there. I liked the atmosphere at BYU and it's refreshing to be held to a higher standard by people who are your mentors. I'm not LDS but I've been around the LDS faith all my life.

"I have a great respect for the LDS faith and how Mormons choose to live their lives. I'm very comfortable having a lot of great fiends that are Mormon, and being around that lifestyle has never been a problem for me. It's a great lifestyle and I'm used to it. Ross Apo is Mormon and I grew up with him. Teu Kautai is Mormon and he comes from a great family. Bronson Kaufusi, who is a great friend of mine – and I was his groomsman at his wedding when he got married, I think, July 6th – is Mormon. My good friend Tui [Crichton] is Mormon and so is Brandon Davies. If you go down the line, a lot of my friends are Mormon, so it's something that I respect and it was never an issue when I was at BYU. They have high standards in their lives and I hold myself to a high standard too. You can still have fun and do the right thing and I gravitated towards those guys because they were just like me."

Fabuluje wants to get accepted to BYU quickly so he can get back on the road to football.

"I'm going to try and get into school as soon as possible," Fabuluje said. "I don't want to prolong anything. I just want to find a place and get there and get situated and get the ball rolling now. Any NCAA rules that I have to face, I want to face and get it over with now. I want to put it all behind me and finish strong. I just want to finish strong and don't want to waste any time. I'm working hard and focused now."

Because he hasn't been granted a release from TCU, Fabuluje can't have any contact with Coach Mendenhall or any of his assistant coaches. It's a similar situation as what occurred with linebacker Uona Kaveinga, who left school at USC and took a chance by enrolling at BYU. Once accepted and enrolled at BYU, Fabuluje can then approach the coaches to see if they are interested. It's a gamble, but one he's willing to take.

"I can't speak to any coaches right now because that's the NCAA rules, so I put my application in at BYU just like a normal student," said Fabuluje. "I've applied to a couple of schools, but I'm really hoping that the BYU thing goes through. As of now I have to apply just as a regular student as if I was just coming out of high school. I'm going through the normal process now and just waiting to hear back from them. Whatever they decide, I'll just have to go with that, but if I get accepted by BYU, I'm coming to BYU. That's just what it is. If not, then I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

If he is admitted, Fabuluje hopes the BYU coaches will give him a second chance.

"I just want to finish strong," he said. "I want to finish strong at a place where I never should have left, and that's what I'm hoping to do. I have two years left to play. Regardless if I have to sit out a year, I will play at least one year. I hope that's at BYU because I'm going to hit the ground running."

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