“I spoke with Coach Poppinga last Friday. He explained their (BYU’s) interest in me and about the coaching staff having watched my film. He invited me to visit [BYU] on Monday. I went to visit, they gave us a tour, and I had a chance to meet with Coach Mendenhall, which was a good opportunity. He told me he liked me and gave me this wonderful opportunity to play for BYU.”
Naisa Mahe had a good chat with Bronco Mendenhall and the two hit it off right away.
“There’s a lot we talked about. We talked about football and the church in general. We also discussed BYU athletics and how he would like me to come and play for BYU. After the first ten minutes, he mentioned that he felt like he knew me his entire life. It was good to bond with him right off the bat like that and then I committed to him.”
The 6’1”, 285-pound lineman said BYU projects him playing the nose tackle position for the Cougars, a la Travis Tuiloma who anchors BYU’s 3-4 defensive scheme currently. Nose tackle is a position that Mahe knows well as West Jordan runs a 3-4 defensive scheme and Mahe plays the nose for the Jaguars.
“BYU said they want to play nose tackle for them, which is something I am really looking forward to. It’s a position I already know and I am glad I have an opportunity to play at the next level.”
BYU outside linebackers Coach Kelly Poppinga has spear-headed Naisa Mahe’s recruitment but Mahe looks forward to connecting with BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi soon. All the same, the work that Coach Poppinga has done in recruiting Mahe has been invaluable.
“I haven’t talked to Coach Kaufusi yet, but they said he will be in touch soon. Coach Poppinga has been recruiting me mainly. He’s the coach I talked to about my family, my academics, and everything else. He’s a great guy and I feel comfortable talking to him about anything.”
Mahe’s swift commitment may have surprised some people, but when you consider his relationship with the BYU football program and the family connections he has to the team, it’s not that surprising.
“I grew a Cougar fan,” Explained Mahe. “I have been a huge BYU fan ever since I was young kid. I really like that the program is based [LDS Church principles], that’s something I am interested in. I also loved watching my cousin, Harvey Unga, play for BYU as well.”
“I talked with my parents and even before I visited and we agreed that BYU was the place to go, so it wasn’t hard to commit to Coach Mendenhall as soon as he offered,” Continued Mahe.
Another family connection is former BYU star Reno Mahe, who is Naisa’s father’s cousin. Mahe hadn’t had a chance to chat with either Reno or Harvey Unga at time of publishing but he was looking forward to doing so in the near future.
Mahe will embark on an LDS mission after high school graduation and return to suit for BYU in 2018. Naisa was surprised by his offer from BYU but plans to attend their summer camp and the All Poly Camp. TotalBlueSports.com will continue to track Atunaisa Mahe’s senior season and update you with any news on his recruitment.