“Coach Mark Atuaia came by the other day and was talking about BYU,” said Livai. “I told him straight up, ‘BYU has always been a dream of mine since I was in the eighth grade. I’ve always wanted to go to BYU.' It all started with my older brother Talai who went to a BYU camp when he was going into his junior year of high school. He brought home this BYU CD and it was of some highlights. Every time I would go play football, I would watch those highlights. Since then it was always a dream of mine to go to that school. Coach Atuaia was surprised when I told him that.”
Livai continued to fill Coach Atuaia in about who he was and his interest in BYU.
“I just told him that I’m Mormon and I plan on serving a mission,” Livai said. “I also told him that I’m getting my Eagle Scout soon, and he was even more surprised. He then asked me a question.”
Mark Atuaia wanted to know where BYU would stand with him if an offer was extended to him. Livai made it known fairly quickly what his intentions would be if a BYU scholarship was offered.
“He said to me, ‘If we were to offer you right now would you commit?’” Livai said. “I told him, ‘Yeah, I’ll commit right now.’ After that he left and went and talked to Coach Mendenhall and told him everything. He then came back for my practice around 3:30 and was filming me. He told me, ‘Man, I love you! Even though we don’t have many scholarships for defense, because we’re looking for o-lineman, you need to be at BYU. After that I came back home after practice and said a prayer and waited.”
After waiting for a little while, Livai decided to call up Coach Atuaia. Atuaia told him that he needed to call up Bronco Mendenhall.
“I called up Coach Mendenhall at around 1:00 [Thursday] and we were talking about the honor code and about BYU,” said Livai. “After we talked for a little bit he said, ‘We would like to offer you a scholarship and have you play for BYU.’ I then told him, ‘Okay, I accept the scholarship.’ Coach Mendenhall was like, ‘Does this mean you’re verbally committing to BYU?’ I told him yes that I was verbally committing to him right now.”
Everything happened so quickly for the humble and unassuming Feleti Livai. Once he received word that he was being offered by BYU, he couldn’t wait to inform BYU’s head coach that he wanted to commit.
“I’m excited about my commitment to BYU,” Livai said. “I have to wait till February to sign though, but that’s when I’ll [make it official]. When I told Coach Mendenhall that I was committing I think I was more excited than he was. I didn’t know what kind of emotions to feel. I didn’t know if I should cry because of my excitement or what. I was just so happy and said a prayer right after that. I was just so excited, I didn’t know what to feel.”
After committing to BYU, Livai kept the news to himself. He went home and got ready to go with his older brother Muli Livai to the LDS Temple. He didn’t tell his brother anything, nor his parents for that matter, about his BYU scholarship and subsequent commitment to the program. He waited until after he got home from the temple to spring the news onto his unsuspecting family.
“I just told them when I got back from the temple,” Livai said with a chuckle in his voice. “They were just so happy and excited. My dad just told me, ‘Just remember what I want from you.’ I told him, ‘Yes dad, I’ll serve my mission first.’ He was like, ‘That’s what I wanted’ and he was so happy for me. Everyone couldn’t believe it and were so excited!”
“Yeah, you would think he would tell his older brother about something big like that,” said older brother Muli Livai. “I mean, when you have the head coach from BYU calling you and offering you a scholarship to come play football you would think that’s a big deal! I mean, can’t he tell his older brother about something like that?”
When the humble and unassuming Feleti finally told his family what had occurred earlier that day everyone was shocked.
“When he finally told us that he committed to BYU I was like, ‘What?’” Muli Livai said with a chuckle. “I was like, ‘Don’t you think that’s something you should let people know about?’ Man, he didn’t even tell us anything until after we got home from the temple!”
Reflecting on how his brother approached the situation, Muli Livai began to laugh.
“He waited until later to let us all know, but I’m just happy that he committed to BYU,” Muli Livai said. “I just told him that everyone is happy for him and that this is big time. I told him it’s time to really buckle down now but first things first. I told him, ‘You have to go do the Lord’s work first and go serve a mission. Then you can come home and play football for BYU.’”
Feleti Livai finished his junior season with 93 tackles, nine sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception and 18 tackles for a loss. He played multiple positions last season including defensive end, middle linebacker, outside linebacker and fullback. This next season, Livai will again be playing on both sides of the ball, but his role will expand to include the position of tight end.
“Washington State is supposed to be offering me soon, and I’ve received offers from Arizona State, Colorado, UNLV, and Oregon State,” said Livai. “Oregon is coming down to watch me practice here soon. I’m now getting heavy interest from UCLA, Boise State, New Mexico, San Diego State, USC and Stanford and Duke called my school counselor about me. Stanford is now showing interest in me.”
Currently, Livai has around a 3.0 GPA and is also getting the job done in the classroom. At 6-3, 250-pounds, Livai currently benches 355 and squats 495-pounds while having been clocked at a 4.57 second forty at the Las Vegas Rivals camp, where he was named one of the top performers. He was named first team all-league playing out of A.B. Miller High School his junior year. His high school coach, Justin Nast, believes his young prodigy is on the verge of blowing up even more now that he’s verbally committed to BYU.
“My coach informed me that now that I’ve committed to BYU a lot more schools are going to come out here and try to convince me not to go to BYU but go to their school,” Livai said. “I told him, ‘Well, they’re not going to change my mind anytime soon.’ BYU has always been a dream school since I was in the eighth grade.”
Congratulations to Feleti "Freddy" Livai on receiving a BYU football scholarship from Bronco Mendenhall and committing to the Cougars of BYU.