Tennessee Pututau from Cottonwood High School is a prospect receiving early attention from BYU' coaching staff. The 6-2, 220-pound athlete, who goes by “Tenny,” recently received a verbal offer from BYU.
"I'm just grateful for the offer by BYU," said Pututau. "That's the school my mom wants me to go to and she's really excited. She wants me to go to school at BYU, and so when I got the offer she was really happy for me. I'm excited too that I got the offer from BYU."
Previous to being named BYU's new defensive coordinator, Ilaisa Tuiaki had already evaluated Tenny Pututau, finding him worthy of an Oregon State scholarship offer. Now at BYU, Coach Tuiaki's evaluation resulted in an offer from the Cougars.
"Coach Tuiaki offered me when he was at Oregon State, so I think now that he's at BYU he was already looking at me," said Pututau. "It was kind of unexpected. BYU has also offered my cousin, Fua [Pututau], who is going on an official visit to BYU this month."
Multi-talented, Pututau plays both ways for the Cottonwood Colts, despite only being a sophomore, which is easy to see why offers from Oregon State, Colorado, Utah, BYU, and as of today, Utah State are now on the table.
"I play defensive end, linebacker, and a little bit of tight end," said Pututau. "I’m around 6-2, 220-pounds. I'm a 2018 class [recruit]. They really like me because I'm really good at rushing on the edge. I'm good at open field tackles and getting to the ball."
New BYU head coach Kalani Sitake and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki become the first Tongans to be named to their respected coaching positions in NCAA history. The Pututau family comes from a small island in Tonga called, "Niua Fo'ou" making the scholarship offer by BYU's new staff that much more exciting for the family.
"It's really cool now that BYU has a head coach that's Tongan," said Pututau. "I really like that a lot. Also Coach Tuiaki is the defensive coordinator over there and I really like him. I've spoken to him before and I think I would like it over there."
While BYU having a Polynesian head coach might be somewhat of an alluring pull for a young Tongan football player like Tenny Pututau, it isn't the primary force of influence. No, that primary influence would happen to be his mother.
"Yeah, my mom really likes BYU and wants me to go there," Pututau said with a chuckle in his voice. "She went to school at BYU and her influence is a little more than half when it comes to me making my final decision. She's going to be, I think, a major thing that influences me on where to go. I think she'll play a big roll in that."
While his mother may wear her blue on her sleeve, Tenny Pututau leaned more towards the color red of Utah. Now that BYU has offered, a tipping of the scale more towards BYU might be in the making.
"I think I like everything about BYU," Pututau said. "I even liked BYU when the old staff was there. When I would go to the games, it just seems like a great place to be. I also have a lot of cousins going there, and they say it's a great place for LDS people because of the standards and academics."
Along with the possibility that his cousins Taniela and Fua Pututau, who have been offered by BYU, could end up attending college in Provo, Tenny Pututau will also have other members of his family attending the flagship university of the LDS faith.
"I also have a cousin, who is a Lotulelei (Inoke Lotulelei), going there this year," said Pututau. "I also have a cousin, B.J. Fifita, from California who is going there. He just came home from his mission, and I think he's going to play cornerback. He'll be walking on at BYU. I'm also related to Moroni Laulu-Pututau, who plays wide receiver at BYU."
With two years of high school ball left to play, Pututau is in no hurry to make a final decision
"I would but I'm going to wait until my senior year to see what options I have and what's my best choice," Pututau said. "I’m only a sophomore right now, so I want to wait a a couple years before I make a final decision."