“It was a good atmosphere and I came up and Coach (Nick) Howell invited me into Coach (Bronco) Mendenhall’s office,” said Maka. “I was intimidated at first. They asked me about my family and they just tried to figure out what kind of person I am.
“They wanted to get a feel for what kind of football player and person I am off the field. He just looked into my eyes and looked straight at me and said, ‘This is for real and this isn’t fake. I’m giving you a full ride scholarship to be on this team and come to this university.’”
Maka sat in Coach Mendenhall’s office speechless.
“Yeah, I didn’t know what to say,” said Maka with an excited laugh in his voice. “It kind of came up on me really quickly since they were only recruiting me for one day. I told my family and the first thing that happened was they told me they loved me and just tears started coming down from their eyes.”
“They started recruiting me [on Tuesday],” said Maka with a chuckle in his voice. “Then they offered me a day after. It’s kind of crazy but that’s how it happened.”
After only one day of recruiting Maka, BYU extended a scholarship offer. No wonder he was surprised by the rapid events that took place in the Bronco Mendenhall’s office.
“I was really excited,” said Maka with a sigh in his voice. “I wasn’t expecting that at all. The first thing that went through my mind was my family. I was there by myself and it was just me, Coach Howell, and Coach Mendenhall, so the first thing I thought of was my family.”
The Maka family are originally from the islands of Tonga and like most from the islands, aren’t that well off financially. It makes sense why Maka’s future opportunities led him to instantly turn to thoughts of helping his family.
“It’s just really a way for me help support my family financially in the future,” said Maka. “It’s a way for us to finally get past some of the struggles that my family and I have been going through our whole life. This is really a great blessing for me and kind of a breakthrough for us.”
At Woods Cross, Maka currently plays defensive end where he’s excelled as a junior using his speed and quickness off the edge as a pass rusher.
“I’m 6-4, 192-pounds,” said Maka. “I play defensive end and what I do well on the field is I have a lot of speed. That’s what I have against my opponents and just having good upper body strength to use against them.
“Last season I had 63 tackles and 13 sacks. I can’t remember how many tackles for a loss I had, and I just play one way. I only play defense.”
The BYU coach recruiting Maka is none other than BYU outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga. Poppinga wants to take Maka and move him to play outside linebacker at the next level.
“Coach Poppinga is the one that is recruiting me,” Maka said. “He doesn’t want me to play defensive end but he wants me to play outside linebacker at BYU. That’s what he’s recruiting me as is to play outside linebacker and I’m fine with that. When Coach Poppinga came and talked with me he was just saying he sat down and watched me film, but he said he wanted me to move to a different position and play outside linebacker.”
Last night Coach Poppinga invited Maka to go watch the BYU vs. Utah basketball game. It was just prior to the basketball game that Coach Mendenhall made it known to Coach Poppinga that he would like to see Maka.
“He invited me to the BYU vs. Utah game and asked me to come down and watch it,” said Maka. “I got a ticket and went and watched the game. We were messaging over twitter and he said he told me that Coach Mendenhall wanted to see right before the game.”
Despite BYU losing a close one to the 13th ranked Utes, BYU was in a position to win that game. Maka was impressed and despite BYU losing the game he’s still a loyal fan regardless of win or lose.
“It was so intense,” Maka said. “BYU lost but I still love them like my Raiders though, I’m a diehard fan.
Maka made it clear he was a diehard BYU fan.
“Yeah,” he said. “I am.”
So he pretty much bleeds blue?
“Yup,” he said with a chuckle.
One aspect of BYU that Pookie Maka likes about BYU’s football program is the fact that BYU has had a lot of success getting outside linebackers into the NFL.
“The thing I like the most about BYU is for the last two years they’ve had two outside linebackers get into the NFL,” said Maka. “That lets you know that BYU’s program is great for outside linebackers. BYU is also the school of my religion, so I know it will be a place that will be a positive influence on me and won’t bring me down. There won’t be any bad peer pressure placed on me to not live my standards.”
However, Maka didn’t commit to Coach Mendenhall after receiving the BYU offer yesterday. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t make that decision at some future point in time given his affinity towards BYU.
“I really want to play for them because it’s close to home,” said Maka. “It’s the school of my religion too, and as of right now I want to serve a mission.”
Congratulations to Pookie Maka on receiving a scholarship offer from BYU. TotalBlueSports.com will continue to monitor the 2016 prospect as he completes his prep playing days.