One aspect about BYU Keanu Saleapaga wanted to learn for himself was could he feel comfortable at BYU and could he see himself playing there? That was one of the key factors he wanted to find out on his official visit last weekend. It is something which will play a big part in his final decision on National Signing Day.
“Yeah, most definitely I felt comfortable up there, and I can see myself playing for BYU and wearing that uniform,” Saleapaga said. “It’s a great environment and I could see myself being up there with all those players. One thing that I wanted to see when I went up there is if I could feel at home there. The coaches made me feel at home, and I have family that lives up there. If I end up going there, I know I have family that live just down the street. My mom's sister and my auntie live up in Orem.”
With the large representation of Polynesians on BYU coaching staff and on the roster, Saleapaga connected well on a social level at BYU. He learned much while being on campus.
“Man, it was crazy to see all the Poly’s up there,” Saleapaga said. “That a good thing because they understand where we come from and how we do things. It was just good to see all the Poly coaches tend to our needs and wants knowing how we do things. It was good.”
“I learned that everybody there all knows where we come from. That means they can all relate to us. I learned from BYU that you don’t have to be LDS to go there, but you just have to practice your religion. That’s something that I like because everybody over there is religious, so if you go there everyone has their own beliefs.”
Along with his family, Saleapaga was able to further connect with BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki during his visit.
“Coach Kaufusi and Tuiaki are cool people,” said Saleapaga. “They know when to get down to business, but then off the field in talking to them I grew really close to them. They met my family and in talking to them my family likes them a lot too. It was just good being around those guys and getting to know them better.”
Some of the more light-hearted experiences on Keanu's official visit were some of the more memorable. Saleapaga put on his warm gear and headed out into the snow on the backs of snowmobiles with his friend Jaylen Morgan.
The good news is there were no casualties, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any close calls.
“No, not me,” laughed Saleapaga. “Jaylen got a little crazy and went off the road a little bit and got stuck in the snow. I had to go help dig him out.”
Knowing what he knows now, Saleapaga is grateful for the opportunities he has before him. In looking back, he’s learned so much over the course of the recruiting process.
“The biggest drastic different between now and the time I was committed to USC are just the opportunities God has shown me that I could have missed by having stayed committed,” he said. “He really opened up my eyes. I never would have thought that BYU would have ever been a place that I would have ever even considered going to. Starting up this season I was always just stuck on USC, now we're here and BYU’s in my top two schools. I’m really thankful for that.”
Saleapaga has BYU and Colorado as his top two college choices. His trip to Colorado was also a great experience for him.
“Colorado was a good experience for me as well,” he said. “I liked it out there too.”
BYU and Colorado fans will have to wait till tomorrow to know where he intends to play.
“Yeah, I’m going to wait till signing day to announce,” Saleapaga said. “That’s something that I want to do. Everyone will know then.”
The good news for BYU fans is Saleapaga’s experience at BYU surpassed all expectations. This bodes well for securing his services come Wednesday.”
“BYU surpassed my expectations,” said Saleapaga. “I thought on the visit it was going to be crowded, but they turned it in to something where we could have our own individual time to do our own thing. I learned a lot and had a great time up there with all the players and coaches. It was a great experience for me and my family.”