Isaiah Nacua Excited for Future at BYU

Prior to moving to Utah, Isaiah and Kaimana Nacua played on separate high school football teams that would eventually face each other in the state playoffs. Now that Isaiah Nacua has signed his national letter of intent with BYU, he'll join the team following a LDS mission, whereupon he'll be reunited with his older brother as college teammates.

Timpview High School defensive tackle Isaiah Nacua is probably one of the more underrated prospects in the 2014 recruiting class. There was a reason Bronco Mendenhall and his staff recruited the former Bishop Gorman product early in his high school career and why Pac-12 programs came calling soon after. Along with the switch of Uriah Leiataua from Stanford to BYU, Nacua's signing with BYU was one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2014 recruiting class.

"I'm going to serve my mission first before I attend BYU," Nacua said. "I'll probably leave right after [high school] graduation and I'll be out serving. I think this is the best thing for me and I know that now. I'm really excited about leaving and then coming home to play for BYU. I committed to BYU early and now know that what I felt then was the right thing for me now."

Before Isaiah Nacua ever puts on a BYU uniform, he'll be serving people and knocking on doors with a message of his faith. It will be two of the more difficult years of his young life but some of the more rewarding years. He already has his sights set on where he would like to go if he could choose.

"I kind of want to go out of the US and serve a foreign mission," said Nacua. "I'd like to go to some place in Asia or like Japan because I love sushi so much. I think that would be a great area of the world to serve a mission. That's kind of where I would like to go if I had a choice to pick, but I'll go wherever the Lord feels is best for me."

When he returns home to trade in a bicycle helmet for a football helmet, Nacua plans on bringing his brand of aggressive, physical football to BYU's defensive line.

"I just want to bring my style of tenacity to BYU's defensive line," Nacua said. "They already have it there with the guys we now have, but when I get there that's what I want to try and do but even more. I'm just really excited about playing at BYU and just want to get there, but obviously I have to wait until after my mission. But when I do get there I want to be bigger, stronger, faster to put BYU's d-line out there to let everyone know that we work hard too and can be one of the best [defensive lines] in the nation."

Nacua considers his ruthless style of play to be a mixture of two NFL players that dominated on the Baltimore Ravens defense for years and have rings as Super Bowl champions.

"When it comes to [who I pattern] my style of play [after], it would probably have to be between two NFL players," said Nacua. "I would say my style of play is kind of like Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis. I try to be relentless in the middle while bringing that tenacity and physical style of play to my game like those guys do. My style of play is a combination of those guys."

The coach responsible for developing Nacua's talents at BYU will be a coach Nacua admires and has a special place in his heart for. That coach is Steve Kaufusi who recruited Nacua, beginning when Isaiah played at Bishop Gorman.

"Coach Kaufusi is a great coach and I love that guy," said Nacua. "I've seen how he coaches and love how he coaches his d-linemen. He really helps them and knows how to coach so well. He really gives each player a lot of insight into how they can improve their game, and I can see how he would do that with me to help me with my game. I see myself being a young guy and him being able to give me insight and knowledge on how to improve, so he can help me and I can learn from him."

An early glimpse of that came one day while Nacua was attending a BYU film session while on an unofficial visit a few years back.

"I remember one day I went into the film room and Coach Kaufusi was talking to his players, I think it was during a spring camp, and he was instructing his players," recalled Nacua. "It was good to see how things were done and it kind of gave me an idea about what I would be experiencing when I'm there with Coach Kaufusi and the d-line players. When they were going over the film with the players he kind of talked about what I would do."

While Coach Kaufusi stands as a mentor to Nacua, one coach that stands as a father figure to him is BYU's Head Coach, Bronco Mendenhall. Whenever Nacua would visit with Coach Mendenhall, Nacua saw a side of Mendenhall that built a connection to BYU's head man, both in and outside of the sport of football.

"Coach Mendenhall is like a father and the type of coach that I want," said Nacua, who lost his own father prior to moving with his family to Utah. "He's the kind of coach that is really involved in the lives of his players. Whenever I spoke to him I never really had a conversation with him about football. It was always about how I was doing and about family. He's always worried about how your other life outside of football is doing. You know he's just a great coach and he actually cares. He really does and I love that. "It's amazing how welcome he makes you feel. You get that comfortable spirit around you as soon as you get into it with him and you feel the open arms around you. It's really different than anywhere else and it makes you feel like family. I love it."

Playing with his older Kaimana, who enrolled at BYU in 2013, will also be an added perk to Isaiah.

"That's a real blessing to me," said Nacua. "Back when we lived in Las Vegas we played on different high school teams and played against each other in the semi-finals in state. It was a rough game but it was exciting. Now finally we'll be able to come together in college and play together is a real blessing. I can't wait to play with him."

The two faced each other when Kaimana was a senior at Liberty High School and Isaiah played for Bishop Gorman in the state semi-finals. Isaiah recalls playing in that game as a starting member of Bishop Gorman's defensive line.

"It was my sophomore year when we played them in the semi-finals and that was the first time and I was really nervous. Here and there I remember kind of letting up. Then getting into the game Kai was doing really against us and playing hard, and I just thought, ‘Oh man, I'm hunting you down now.' I went after him like a mad man."

In the end Bishop Gorman was victorious. Younger brother had beaten his older brother and Kaimana Nacua would then go on to sign with BYU. If Kaimana was going to lose he would rather have it be to his younger brother Isaiah.

"He was a really humble guy and he ended up scoring the only touchdown against us," said Isaiah. "I remember a couple of plays before we went head up when he got the ball. He gave it his all and knew he did his best. I think he was happy for me knowing that he gave it his all against us."

The Nacua brothers will be united as BYU Cougars in the future, and for Isaiah Nacua, he wouldn't want it any other way. Playing with his older brother as a member of BYU's football team was the plan they had right from the start when they were first offered by Coach Mendenhall. He didn't see it then but sees it now how being able to play at the same school as your brother is a real unique blessing most siblings don't get to experience.

"Yeah, you can't really explain how you feel when you finally know that you're going to be playing with your brother on the same team than against him. It's going to be awesome standing on the same sideline as him and going crazy together after a big play. It's really going to be a great experience for me to be with my older brother playing together on the same team, and on the same defense."

The future of BYU's defense looks very bright, and Isaiah Nacua will be a part of that future once he returns home from his mission. He sees the type of talent he'll be playing alongside of once he returns home and thinks BYU's defense will continue its dominating ways.

"You know, just based on the guys we've got coming in and the guys that will be there from missions and things like that, this defense will be really, really good in the future," said Nacua. "It already is [right] now but I think the guys that are coming in and if you look at the talent level we have it's going to just keep on going. If we put in the work, we have the talent and ability to be a top defense like BYU has [recently]. I'm excited to be a part of it and can't wait."

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