“After my Utah commitment it wasn’t the same feeling that I felt at BYU,” said Pilimai. “Coach Kalani Sitake knew that I had lived in Provo previously. After the trip to BYU he was like, ‘Come on home. Come home to Provo.’ I think of it that way. I’m coming back home to Provo and coming back home to my boys and my family.
“There’s just something up there in Provo that you can’t beat. The relationships that I have with the other recruits, and my cousins who are up there, I just couldn’t pass it up. What's there at BYU is what I want for my football experience.”
The familiar spirit of Provo and the comfort he felt while on campus was too much to pass up. The atmosphere was different at BYU under Coach Sitake than it was under Coach Mendenhall, making what BYU had to offer that much more attractive. The new coaching staff’s relaxed and loose style, coupled with a more open door policy, made things feel different. This is attributed to the personality of head coach Kalani Sitake.
“I’m sure a lot,” said Pilimai. “In fact it was a lot. They’ve created this environment that just feels as though you are at home at BYU. It’s sort of something that you can’t really explain. It’s something that you want to feel around you as you go forward towards succeeding in the program. Coach Sitake played a big role in that and in letting me know that, he really wants me to be there and that I’m going to be taken care of. I really took that to heart.
“I took the feelings that I got at BYU up to Utah to see if they could duplicate how I felt at BYU. You know, there really is no duplicating what Kalani has done with BYU football. Ultimately it came down to that, and that’s really what I wanted.”
After comparing the environment and comfort levels between BYU and Utah, Pilimai made it official on signing day after spending time away from social media. He didn’t want any outside influences to distract him from pondering and praying upon what was a very important decision.
“I wanted to take time away to make sure that I didn’t have any other influences in my decision,” said Pilimai. “In social media everyone is trying to put their two cents in trying to get you to this way or that way. I took time away from interviews and all the fans and stuff to make sure that I really pondered upon my decision without any outside voices or influences. I wanted to make sure this was mine.”
After all the private and personal formalities, Pilimai committed to BYU. The Cougar fans learned of his decision on February 3rd (NLI Day). He plans on holding off on serving a mission right away and plans on playing during this season’s grueling schedule.
“I’m going to be playing my first year at BYU,” said Pilimai. “I talked with Coach Kalani and worked it out that I’ll be playing in fall. Then in the winter around February I’ll leave. That way I can come back in time for spring camp, but this year I plan on being there and playing. I plan on doing everything I can to help the team win.”
The big, fast, and rangy defensive specialist could play two, possibly three positions that won’t be determined until a future time.
“In talking to Coach Kalani and the defensive coaches, they said that if I stay around 215 or 220, I’ll play strong safety,” said Pilimai. “However, if I do put on a little more weight then I’ll move up and play outside linebacker.
“There was some speculation about me going both ways. In talking to Coach Detmer, he talked to me about possibly playing tight end on offense. We’ll see how that all works out. As of right now I’m going to play strong safety and outside linebacker.”
As of now he’ll be preparing for his BYU football experience training with the thought of playing outside linebacker.
“Right now I’m training to be an outside linebacker,” said Pilimai. “That’s what I’m planning all my diet around, and I’m doing things to put weight on me. As of right now I’m planning on playing on outside linebacker, but if I end up playing safety I’m not going to complain either. I just want to be on the field.”
Once Pilimai finally gets on campus this fall and all settled in, he’s looking forward to doing one thing. That is, doing his best to show Coach Sitake and Tuiaki that their efforts to recruit him to BYU was not a waste of time.
“The football experience and just really looking forward to being a part of that first class and making an impact in the program,” said Pilimai. “Being a part of Kalani’s first class coming in, I’m one of the recruits he’s recruited the longest. I want to make sure that I do all that I can to help the program be successful to let him know that he made the right decision in recruiting me. I just want to prove him right, and I think we all owe that to him because of how much he cares for us.”