“I think that the religion part of BYU was big for me,” said Kaufusi. “BYU offers LDS student-athletes great football and also the religion part that is so important. For me personally, I’ll also have a brother that is going to BYU (2014 recruit Isaiah Kaufusi) and two cousins that are there, and it’s close to home so I think it’s a good fit. I think BYU is a good fit for anyone who wants to grow as a young man in the sport of football and spiritually. Being able to travel around the county and play the best football around is an amazing opportunity on top of BYU being a great school.”
Upon his return home from serving an LDS mission, Jackson Kaufusi will join his older brother at BYU.
“My brother Isaiah committed to BYU and is now serving his mission in Tonga,” said Kaufusi. “I plan on leaving around July.”
Jackson's commitment to BYU didn’t come without first enduring a personal trial. Jackson Kaufusi had received a BYU scholarship offer while Bronco Mendenhall was head coach, but due to scholarship restrictions, the old BYU staff gave his scholarship to another prospect.
“The last staff at BYU had given my scholarship away, and I was just waiting to see what the new staff would do,” Kaufusi said.
The sudden development of going from having a BYU scholarship to no BYU scholarship left Jackson Kaufusi heartbroken. His uncle, Steve Kaufusi, called the family to inform them of the situation, which must have been tough.
“I thought BYU would have been a pretty good place for me. They had offered me but then gave it away. I didn’t really talk to them about actually what had happened. My uncle Steve had called my dad and told him that they gave it away to another kid. I was just waiting for this next staff to come in and hopefully they would see me again.”
It would have been easy for Kaufusi to commit to another program out of an emotional response to his BYU offer being given away. However, he didn’t take that approach. Rather, he took a more rational approach involving a process of patience and prayer in the hope things would change.
“When BYU took the scholarship back I thought to myself, ‘Well, that just makes my choices a little easier,’” recalled Kaufusi. “I would pick a college to go to and then go to the temple to pray. I wouldn’t get anything back, so I would go pick another school and then go to the temple and pray about it. I wouldn’t get anything back. So, I just kind of waited it out to see what happened.”
That is when Jackson Kaufusi happened to run into Kalani Sitake at a Brighton High School basketball game where Coach Sitake was watching Simi Fehoko play.
“I ran into Kalani at a basketball game,” said Kaufusi. “That’s when I knew it was BYU. I sat down next to him and talked to Kalani for a while. We got in contact from then on. I called him the next day and he offered me a scholarship, I think, last Wednesday. I kind of waited a little bit but then it just felt right and knew that there was no reason to wait any longer, so I committed. There was lots of prayer and visiting the temple, but in the end it all worked out.”
The difficulty of his personal trial resulted in a testimony building experience in which greater faith was gained.
“I definitely learned a lot going through this experience,” said Kaufusi. “I had to put in work for that. I had to put my faith in the Lord and really relied on him to help me get things done. I spent a lot of time on my knees praying, and he answered my prayers. It definitely helped my testimony grow.”
What makes Kaufusi’s commitment to BYU more astounding is the fact that personal inspiration was enough to make his decision without the gathering information process of an official visit.
“I had an offer from Utah and went on an official visit to Utah last weekend,” said Kaufusi. “It was a lot of fun. It was good to see the differences between the two colleges. It was a fun weekend. I just felt that BYU was the better choice, so I picked them over Utah. I’ll be heading on my official visit to BYU this weekend. It was a little stressful, but it’s good how it all worked out in the end.”