Kearns High School do everything star Sione Finau had followed Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki to Oregon State, where he believed his college football career, and education, would be played out in Corvallis, Oregon.
Seemingly in an instant, Coach Mendenhall and much of his staff bolted to Virginia, leaving a BYU Cougars football program void of coaches. The head positions were soon filled by Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki, which would ripple a profound change of direction in the life of Sione Finau.
“Growing up I’ve always just been a BYU fan, so when the offer came it was a no-brainer,” said Finau. “It was a no-brainer because Coach Sitake and Tuiaki both offered me a scholarship to come to BYU. They have great coaches and a great coaching staff. They have a great mindset and know the game, and I want to be a part of that.”
Although knowledge of his commitment to BYU came on National Letter of Intent Day (February 3rd), Finau knew where his heart lay. He wanted to play for his dream school for coaches he grew to love.
“I was very excited when I got that offer,” Finau said. “It was a good day for me because, like I said, BYU was my dream school growing up. I was really excited. One thing they have going on over there in Provo is special, and I just want to be a part of that. I know this is going to be a great experience for me and my family. When the offer came it was an easy decision for me. Like I said it was a no-brainer.”
Prior to signing day, Sione Finau took an official visit to BYU. He met with the men who would become his future mentors both on and off the field. Knowing the heart of Finau, those very coaches were very forthcoming with him.
“I took my trip last Friday and Coach Sitake and everyone was real honest with me,” Finau said. “They sat me down and just told me, ‘This is the college for you.’ They didn’t beat around the bush or anything. They believed in me and I really liked that. That’s why I made my decision.”
Finau has made history before ever putting on the blue and white uniform of BYU. He’ll be a part of a program ran by the first Polynesian hired at BYU and the first Tongan head coach in NCAA history.
“It’s quite the honor to be a part of this recruiting class,” Finau said. “On top of that I get to further my education and play college football at my dream school. I’m very excited and I’m ready to go. I’m all in.”
Quick, shifty, and having a knack for finding the end zone, Finau’s talents may cause a little tug-of-war among the offensive and defensive coaches. He has the skill set to play multiple positions both offensively and defensively making the decision on where to play a difficult one for BYU coaches.
“I have no clue to be honest with you,” Finau said about what position he’ll play at BYU. “I spoke with head coach Kalani Sitake and he told me I could play just whatever, but then I spoke to offensive coordinator Ty Detmer and he said he would like to see me play slot receiver and running back. You know, I’ll go serve a mission and then in two years we’ll see where I play after that.”
Hopefully by then the coaches will have figured things out. In the meantime, Sione Finau’s life is set in stone for the foreseeable future. He’ll set aside his helmet and shoulder pads in place of a white shirt and tie where he will serve a two-year LDS mission. Then return to don the blue and white colors of BYU.
“I plan on leaving right after graduation,” Finau said. “I’m starting my papers now and plan on leaving as soon as I can. I want to leave in June and then come back and play. I’m excited about it.”