“This past year for Tustin I played quarterback and outside linebacker,” he said. “This year it will be a little bit different because I’ll be playing kind of all over the place. I’m 6’4” and 200-pounds and when it comes to physicality I’m one of the more physical on the field. Also, I never back away from a challenge. I think those are some of the things I bring to my team and some things I’ll bring to the college level.
“As far as I can remember I had 1,200 yards passing, 420 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns passing, and 11 touchdowns rushing the ball (in 2014).”
Pilimai spoke with BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall after the BYU coaching staff reviewed his film. It wasn’t long afterwards that the Tustin High School quarterback and linebacker, who is LDS, received a scholarship offer from BYU.
“I called Coach Mendenhall and he just told me straight up that he was interested after seeing my film,” said Pilimai. “He felt like that I could be a huge contributor to the team. I’m just really thankful that BYU’s taken early interest in me this early in the year.
“I talked to Coach Mendenhall [again] and he offered me and made it official. I was really excited and getting an offer from any D1 college is excited, but being a LDS athlete and getting an offer from BYU is just super exciting for me. It’s a huge honor and it just motivates me to get better.”
On the phone with Alema Pilimai and Coach Mendenhall was Alema’s father, Vanu Pilimai, on a three-way conference call when BYU’s head coach extended the offer.
“I was on a three-way call with Coach Mendenhall and my dad was on the phone with us,” Pilimai said. “After we got done talking to Coach Mendenhall I spoke to my dad for a little bit. He was so happy and proud of me after I got the offer. He got to hear the whole conversation and we were both really happy.”
After receiving the offer from BYU, Pilimai was excited knowing he had just received an offer from the head coach of his church college BYU.
“I mean, BYU is the mecca for LDS athletes and I’ve got a lot of friends that got accepted to go there,” said Pilimai. “They’re always trying to get me to go there and trying to be persuasive in getting me lean towards BYU. I’m just so excited that BYU has taken an interest in me.”
His offer from BYU makes it his second on the table with the first being from Oregon State.
“My first offer is from Oregon State, and BYU came second with an offer,” Pilimai said. “Both schools have equal interest and I’m a little overwhelmed. Right now I’m just really happy that I’ve received an offer from them. I’m just working my butt off trying to get better.”
Back in Laie, Hawaii, Vanu Pilimai grew up with the Atuaia family and is very close to BYU running backs coach Mark Atuaia’s brother, Alema Atuaia. In fact, Vanu Pilimai is so close to the family he named his own son Alema after Coach Atuaia’s brother.
“I was named after his brother Alema Atuaia,” Pilimai said. “My dad [Vanu Pilimai] and Marky Atuaia’s brother Alema were best friends growing up back in Hawaii. They went to school together at Kahuku, so, yeah, we’re really close family with them. My dad grew up with them.”
That close connection has to bode well for the Cougar coaching staff. Having Coach Atuaia on staff, and being considered an uncle, surely can’t hurt the staff’s chances of landing this talented California athlete.
“My uncle is the running back’s coach at BYU, Marky Atuaia,” said Pilimai. “I think the first one to see my film was Coach (Jason) Beck, the quarterbacks coach, and he showed me early interest. He showed the rest of the staff my film, and then my uncle Marky told the staff that he was my nephew as well. As far as recruiting goes from BYU it’s kind of all over the place. I’m talking to Coach (Kelly) Poppinga the outside linebacker’s coach as well.”
Although Pilimai plays both quarterback and outside linebacker he’s being recruited by BYU as an athlete. He feels the staff will find a position that fits his skill set the most once he joins a college program.
“As of right now I’m just being recruited as an athlete,” Pilimai said. “As far as position it will be just what the coaches feel is my more natural position, but I’ll be happy to play whatever position the coaches want me to play.”
When the time comes to choose which college he’ll attend, Pilimai will get down on bended knees and ask for direction in what will be one of the more important decisions of his young life.
“Yeah that’s for sure. I’m going to do what’s best for me and my family,” said Pilimai. “I’ll look for what’s best for me and my future and what will prepare me my whole like and not just football. When the time comes I’ll then make a decision based on what’s best for me.”
Once a final decision is made he’ll turn in his mission papers and go serve as a missionary prior to suiting up in a football helmet and pads.
“Yeah, as soon as I turn 18 I’ll be turning in my papers to serve my mission,” Pilimai said. “That’s something that’s very important to me and my family, so I’ll so that before playing football at the division one level.”