Scholarship opens up for Leiataua

He's LDS, a talented football player, and his heart was at BYU for quite some time. In fact, months ago he was hoping for the opportunity to play football as a Cougar. After several unofficial visits and football camps, Uriah Leiataua left Provo disappointed, having not secured that coveted Cougar offer. On Friday night that all changed.

It's been a long time coming for 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound Uriah Leiataua of Dominguez High School in Compton, California. After many months hoping for a BYU offer, his wait has finally ended Friday night.

"I'm excited, but kind of feel like it's been long and sort of frustrated about it," said Leiataua. "But, I'm most excited about my offer from BYU. I can't believe it finally happened. I honestly believed it wouldn't happen, to tell you the truth, so I kind of gave up a little bit waiting for the offer to come. If I had been offered a couple of months earlier, I would have committed on the spot to Coach right there. It's kind of a different situation now."

The reason why the situation has changed for Leiataua is because he now has offers from Stanford, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin, Colorado and a few others. If the BYU coaches want to secure the services of Leiataua, they've got their work cut out for them. They'll have to overcome the emotional disappointments that have stacked up from not being offered by the BYU staff earlier, along with competing against some top-quality college recruiters that have entered the picture.

However, the coaches at BYU explained to him that it had nothing to do with him not being a good fit for BYU or not being talented enough to play there.

"It was nothing like with me or anything, and they kept saying that," said Leiataua. "Coach Tujague kept saying that to me. He said that I was perfect for them, but it was the scholarship numbers there that were sort of worked against me, and stuff like that. Then things finally opened up. They said they wanted to offer me earlier, but if they did offer me they knew that I would commit.

"They said there was a possibility that it could look bad on their part. They said that if they offered me a scholarship and I had committed, only for them to end up not having a scholarship to give, it would look really bad on their part because I would be out of luck. That's why they didn't want to offer me until something opened up. I kind of understand it. It makes sense."

Whether it was due to attrition or by some other means, a scholarship at BYU has become available. Leiataua was the first to receive that opportunity from the Cougar coaches.

"Yeah, a lot of things kind of opened up and I was in a weird predicament. That's kind of what they said and I kind of knew that," Leiataua mentioned. "It's just still kind of frustrating and all."

So when it comes to BYU's coaches, has that predicament left a sour taste in his mouth?

"Oh no! It's not that," Leiataua quickly responded. "It's just a very frustrating situation to be in, you know? I'm pretty sure my whole school knew that I wanted to go there back during this past summer. I don't know, it was kind of a letdown when all these top-notch schools started offering, but still nothing from BYU. I talked to my cousin Tyler [Luatua] and he's been offered by BYU, so I was talking to him about it. So, yeah, it's been tough now that so many schools have offered."

Scout rates Tyler Luatua second nationally among tight ends in his recruiting class. Some of the same topnotch colleges that have offered him have also offered Leiataua. The two have talked about many things regarding their future.

"He hasn't committed anywhere yet, and, yeah, we've talked about playing together in college," Leiataua said. "We talked about that, but hopefully something works out. I think he's going to trip later on to BYU, and hopefully I'll trip with him."

If Luatua wants to trip with his cousin, it will have to be the weekend of the 31st of January. Leiataua has already set up that weekend as his official visit to BYU.

While Leiataua may have been frustrated due to the past situation with BYU, the Cougar ship has not sailed.

"I'm still taking a look and my heart is still there at BYU, but it's just that a lot of things have happened since," the LDS prospect said. "I made a lot of promises to other coaches that I've gotten to know that have caught my mind. But, BYU is still in my heart."

The promises that he's made to those coaches have more to do with keeping them in mind. Since BYU didn't offer back in the spring, he's kept his promise by not forgetting those coaches that have shown interest. Since then he's built up relationships that now have allowed a crack to be widened into a larger gap between him and BYU.

"I made promises to keep them in mind, because during the summer I had tunnel vision towards BYU and stuff," Leiataua said. "Ever since then a lot of my vision has been guarded but open. I'm starting to look at stuff that will benefit me and my family later on, and stuff like that have come into play. I've just gotten to grow in a lot of relationships with different coaches. Honestly, in the end I'm going to do what I feel is best for me. I want to go to a college where I can enjoy my time there and get the most out of my scholarship offer."

Despite having many quality offers, Leiataua won't make any quick decision.

"I'm just making sure that I don't let my emotions get ahead of me," he said. "There have been a few times I thought about committing on a few of my trips. I thought about it and made sure my head was on straight first. Right now I'm keeping my options open and there really isn't a timeline in which I'll make my decision. I'll hopefully make a decision before signing day. I want to sign on signing day, but I'll wait to find an answer if it comes down to that. I want to sign on signing day, so hopefully I'll have my answer before that."

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