BYU Offers Vista Murrieta Prospect

Vista Murrieta High School defensive lineman Tevita Mounga already has one offer on the table. BYU is the latest to throw their hat into the ring in an attempt to land his services and are in a great position to do so.

Tevita Mounga will be heading into his senior season next year, and when he does so he'll enter it with a scholarship offer from both Utah and BYU with more to come potentially.

"Yeah, the Utah Utes offered me," said Mounga. "The Colorado Buffs (Buffaloes) are also looking at me right now. As of right now I haven't talked to any other coaches other than Colorado, Utah and BYU."

The 6-2, 290-pound nose guard from Vista Murrieta High School is a dominant force in the trenches, which he learned from his position coach who once roamed the football field for USC.

"I'm around 6-2, 290-pounds and my squat is 405 and my bench is 305. From my freshman to my sophomore year I played left tackle and left guard 9on the offensive line)," said Mounga. "I was alright at it but our defensive line coach Lonnie Ford who played for USC and also in the pros. He took me to the defensive side and made me a nose guard. He made the nose guard that I am today, so. I'm truly grateful for him and for him helping me to get better."

Mounga was first discovered by Kelly Poppinga while he was down visiting Vista Murrieta to check up on 2014 BYU signee Tyler Cook. Doing his due diligence, Coach Poppinga, who is an outstanding recruiter, followed up with Mounga's evaluation and that ultimately led to the BYU offer.

"Yeah, it was Coach Poppinga and another coach that was with him that first found out about me," Mounga said. "He was down at Vista Murrieta because BYU was recruiting Tyler Cook at that time. That's when they found out about me."

Mounga, who played alongside Cook on the defensive line, talked with Cook about how he would love to one day play with him at the next level throughout last season.

"Oh yeah, I played right next to Cook and he was our d-end," said Mounga, "There were many times at practice when we would talk about playing together. I would say things like, ‘Man, it would be great if I could play on a whole new level with you.' We played next to each other and were always putting in the work and getting things done. If I did go to BYU and play on a BYU defense with him, it would be a great experience."

Last weekend, Mounga was invited to come up to BYU for an unofficial visit. He flew up to BYU while his former high school teammate Tyler Cook, who was accompanied by fellow signee Fred Warner, drove up to attend the BYU Spring Scrimmage.

"I was up at BYU last week on Friday and was there for the Saturday scrimmage," said Mounga. "I didn't know there was going to be a scrimmage. I just thought I was going up with Tyler Cook, and another player that signed with BYU whose name is Fred, to say what's up to the coaches. It ended up (with us attending the) spring scrimmage."

While on campus, Mounga enjoyed the setting around LaVell Edwards Stadium and the other facilities around BYU campus.

"It was awesome, especially with the stadium being right there against the mountains was beautiful," said Mounga. "Being able to see the whole football facilities and the coaches are great. Meeting Coach Mendenhall when I was there was great."

Then something happened to Mounga that took him by complete surprise. He was asked to meet with Coach Mendenhall on Sunday during his visit to Provo.

"Yeah, I thought I was just going to go up there to visit and see Coach Poppinga, Coach Kaufusi, and some of the other coaches up there," Mounga said. "I was hoping that something would happen, but I just thought I was going up just to visit. I showed up and met with Coach Poppinga and met the team. Then on Sunday, that's when I sat down with Coach Bronco Mendenhall and that's when he extended the offer."

"I didn't know what was going to happen. I just thought I was going up just to visit. I thought it was just going to be like a little trip. I had no idea that BYU was going to offer me a scholarship. It was probably one of the coolest experiences I've had visiting BYU. It was the most spiritual experiences I've had with a college just visiting with the coaches and the team."

While in Coach Mendenhall's office, Mounga sat across from BYU's Head Coach, who had him read a piece of paper. That's when he learned he was receiving an offer from BYU.

"Well, at first I didn't really know what was happening," said Mounga with a laugh. "I started reading the paper that Coach Mendenhall gave me and it said to be a future Cougar. I was like, ‘What?' I continued to read and then he stopped me and said, ‘Did you understand what you just read?' I was like, ‘Yeah' and he said, ‘We are extending you a scholarship offer.' I continued to read and he expressed to me the importance of what it means to be a part of BYU, and how it's more than just being a football player. It's a lot more than that. That was one of the greatest things I've heard from a football coach."

Upon learning he now had an offer from BYU, Mounga was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude.

"Oh, first of all I just felt very grateful just to be in his presence and be on campus," said Mounga. "Then for me to get an offer from Coach Mendenhall was a big blessing for me and my family. It was just a great experience for me."

Tevita called back home to talk to his mother and members of his family, informing them he just received a scholarship from Coach Mendenhall to play football at BYU.

"Before I called back home I said a prayer of gratitude," Mounga said."I then called back home and said that Coach Mendenhall just gave me an offer. Everyone back home were really excited because my parents are also big BYU fans and we support BYU."

He heard his mother shout out in that old Tongan customary manner prior to hearing her do what most Tongan mothers do when they receive good news about their children.

"It was probably one of the greatest experiences my parents had," Mounga said. "When I told my mom she was doing that Tongan thing they do. You know that, ‘Choo Hoo! Choo Hoo!' they do when they get excited and are having fun. Then she started crying about it after all the excitement calmed down. You know how Tongan moms get. It was a great experience for her."

Later at a barbecue, Fred Warner and Mounga's former high school teammate Tyler Cook found out that Tevita Mounga had received an offer. Cook was very excited for Mounga as thoughts of past conversations of playing together more than likely entered his mind.

"They were excited and were pushing me saying, ‘Now you get to come play with us!'" Mounga said. "I was like, ‘Dude, I haven't even committed yet.' It was pretty funny and I was just so excited. I don't know if they had any idea that I was going to be offered or not. I'm not sure if they knew that was going to happen. It was a great experience though."

Fred Warner contends both he and Tyler Cook, despite Cook being a former high school teammate, had no clue Mounga would be offered a scholarship during the trip.

"Me and Tyler knew that he was flying up there and going to do the visit thing," Fred Warner said. "We didn't know he was going to be offered. Nobody told us anything about that. We had no clue but we were really happy for him."

There was another member of BYU's football team, albeit current one, that was very excited about Mounga's offer. It was his cousin Edward Fusi, who currently plays center for BYU and was an early teacher to Mounga in the sport of football.

"My cousin Ed Fusi plays center there at BYU," said Mounga. "I told him that I was offered by BYU and he was really excited for me too. When I was up there visiting I stayed with him for a little bit of the time I was there. He took me to see Coach Mendenhall and after I got my offer he was so excited for me. I was just grateful to have him there."

"He was so proud of me. He taught me some of my football when I was a kid growing up. He used to spend time with me and teach me how to play, so I think it was just a cool and special thing for him to see me get an offer from BYU. He was so excited and proud of me."

Prior to any decision on where he'll play college football, Mounga will set aside his helmet and cleats to serve a LDS mission.

"Oh yeah, I've definitely thought about serving my mission," said Mounga. "I was thinking of leaving right after high school to go do the Lord's work then come back and play football."

When it comes to when Mounga will make a final decision that process have to wait a little longer.

"I don't know when I'll be making my final college decision," Mounga said. "I just want to enjoy the football coming up and then when it comes down to it I'll probably make my decision pretty quick."

However, BYU is sitting very well with Tevita being that he is LDS, is a BYU fan, has family currently on the team, and wants to serve a mission.

"Oh, if it came down to three of my top schools BYU would be my top one, top two, and three," Mounga said. "It's going to have to come down to BYU and two other schools but BYU is my top."


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