"I knew that BYU was a good place and they were the first one to offer me and I have family there," said Kaufusi. "The blood runs thick and I love BYU. You know, I wanted to commit earlier as soon as I got that offer. My dad just said, ‘Hey, hey, hey, just slow down and just enjoy it.' So, I did. I took my trips and I was pretty open with those even though I knew BYU was better in the back of my mind."
Kaufusi had scholarship offers from Hawaii, Utah, and Utah State and took official visits to both Utah and Utah State. His official visit to BYU last weekend only confirmed what Isaiah Kaufusi had already felt in his heart; that BYU was the right place to be.
"It was an amazing experience," Kaufusi said. "All the guys that were there were all awesome and phenomenal. They are all awesome athletes and I just want to surround myself with greatness and be a part of what BYU has to offer. So, I just talked to Bronco and said, ‘I'm 100 percent committed and come Monday I'll sign that national letter of intent and I want to be a Cougar.'"
Over the weekend recruits gathered at BYU for activities around campus for an official visit. Approximately 18 recruits, including Isaiah Kaufusi, gathered together to spend time at BYU.
"It was pretty much the whole class of 2014 so we had different guys from all across the country and it was cool," said Kaufusi. "It was a great time to come together and be with your future teammates and have a bond with them. We went snowmobiling and we also went paintballing. I think paintballing was a lot of fun. We had around 30 guys out there and there were paintballs flying around everywhere. Coach Mendenhall was out there with his two boys."
Apparently, Coach Mendenhall is quite the marksmen and was picking off recruit after recruit with splattering success. That is until two recruits cornered him, and pinned him down with a hail of crossfire.
"Me and Zac Dawe had him (Coach Mendenhall) pinned down really badly," said Kaufusi with a laugh in his voice. "We had him right in the middle of us and in a bad pickle. Zac hit him a couple of times in the back and then I was able to get him a few times. He had welts all over his back, but he got me a couple of times. You don't mess with Bronco because he's a sharpshooter. I mean, he was fearless but we got him a couple of times."
It might not be a good idea to shoot your future head coach and letting him win might be better in the long run. He can always get you back in abundance when it comes time for pursuit drills and practice. Kaufusi now realizes this to be the case, but he thinks that the retribution won't be too severe.
"Yeah, that is true," Kaufusi said with a laugh. "But, you know, you have to pick your battles and this was won we thought we could win. I don't think we'll get into too much trouble for it. He's a good player though, and he's fearless. He was laying down and taking people out until he got trapped. That's when we got him."
The recruits were split up into various groups with their hosts. Kaufusi's host was recently returned missionary Adam Pulsipher. While the various groups went snowmobiling on various days they all attended the basketball game to watch BYU come back to beat Saint Mary's at the Marriott Center last Saturday.
"The basketball game was good," said Kaufusi. "That was a lot of fun and the student section loved us and they had pictures of our faces they were waving around. That was a lot of fun. Then that night we were all hanging out in the lobby and then the next thing we knew it was five o'clock in the morning because we were all just talking and getting to know each other."
Saturday night saw a majority of the recruits sitting together in a circle and bonding one with another and BYU coaches. They told their personal stories and shared their personal backgrounds.
"We all talked about our backgrounds and why we all talked about why we all liked BYU," recalled Kaufusi. "We talked about if we were going to serve a mission and just gave our stories. Bronco just talked to us about how we can make our story, so we all just kind of sat together and talked and it was a highlight for me to sit down with my future teammates and bond with them."
The coaches excused themselves and a few recruits retired as well but other players stayed up and continued to talk into the wee hours of the morning.
"There were a lot of guys from the class there," Kaufusi said. "There was Fred Warner, Damien Mama, Kavika Fonua, Zac Dawe, Uriah Leiataua, Sione Takitaki, myself, and pretty much everyone else. The only players that weren't there was Matt [Bushman] because he was up in his room sleeping. Tyler Cook hung out for a little bit but he went up and slept too, and Chandon [Herring] wasn't there so everyone was there but those three."
Kaufusi feels that Uriah Leiataua and Damien Mama had a great time being around like-minded players while enjoying their time on campus and in Provo for their official visits.
"I know they both loved it and they're both LDS and the church has a special place in their hearts," said Kaufusi. "You could tell by their demeanor and how they reacted that they really liked BYU and that it was a great place and they could see themselves playing there. Uriah said he was going to go home and talk to him mom about it and just kind of sit back and take a look at him options to see if Stanford was the place or if BYU was the place. Damien was pretty much the same and we'll see what he does."
Come Sunday morning, the recruits attended a sacrament meeting with their parents and Coach Mendenhall and his family.
"We had a sacrament service together and that was great," said Kaufusi. "The LDS recruits where all there with their families. Uriah was just there by himself but all the parents where there for the sacrament meeting. It was a great experience and my mom said the parents all hung out together afterwards."
After the church service, Kaufusi felt it was time to let Coach Mendenhall know he was going to join his program.
"Then after that we had a little brunch with eggs, waffles and pancakes and bacon. I told Bronco the day before on Saturday if he could meet with me and my parents. My younger brother [Jackson] was also there. Then on Sunday I thanked him for the opportunity and told him that I was 100 percent committed to him and BYU. I told him that I would stand behind him and BYU, and that come Wednesday I'll sign my letter of intent and be a BYU Cougar. I just can't wait to be a Cougar. He thanked my dad and it just gave me more confidence that my decision to commit to BYU was the right one. He was excited to hear I was committing to BYU. It's just great to see it in his face."
Now that the long road to becoming a BYU Cougar is over, Isaiah Kaufusi is happy it's finally over. He's excited and feels the future that's been given to him is one of the greatest blessings he's received.
"Oh man, there's no words to describe it," a humble Kaufusi said. "It's just a great blessing to have to have your school paid for and be able to play football at BYU. To be able to represent your faith on the field while get a great education from your church college is one of the greatest blessing you can have. It's just great and not a lot of kids have that opportunity and I'm just extremely grateful for that opportunity."
Once Isaiah Kaufusi graduates from Brighton High School this summer, he plans to head straight on a mission. He's already started the process of filling out his missionary papers and wants to leave as soon as possible. In the meantime, we congratulate him and his family on the decision to be a part of the BYU Cougar family.