On the March 1st, Orem High School athlete Puka Nacua received a BYU scholarship offer from Kalani Sitake and the BYU coaching staff. As to be expected, primarily due to being at the young age of 15, Nacua was surprised to have received an offer that his older brothers Kai and Isaiah Nacua had received but an older age.
“I was just really excited and so glad and thankful for the offer,” said Nacua. “I called Coach (Tevita) Ofahengaue and when I did he told me that I had an offer. I was in shock for a little bit when he told me. It took me a little bit to take it all in and was in shock. It took me a little bit to respond. There was this awkward moment of silence at first but then I told him thank you.”
What was it that caused BYU to offer this freshman from Orem High School his first scholarship offer? Puka Nacua has a few suspicions.
“I think having my brothers at BYU had a little bit to do with it, but I think with the type of offense they run over there they’re looking for more receivers,” Nacua said. “I had around 28 catches last year and around 700 yards and two touchdowns.”
Prior to his older brother Kai Nacua coming to BYU, Puka didn’t follow BYU as much while living down in Las Vegas, Nevada. That quickly changed once big brother headed off to BYU.
“Yeah, I didn’t follow BYU before, but when Kai went there, I started following BYU to watch him,” Nacua said. “He was my big bro and the first one in my family among the boys to go to college. It was really cool. His freshman year he didn’t play much but it was cool seeing him on kickoffs. I would go back to school the next day and tell everyone, ‘Hey, my brother was on the field that day.’”
Having Kai at BYU meant free game tickets for the Nacua family. Puka Nacua and a few of his friends went and watched his brother Kai play as BYU hosted Boise State last season.
“Yeah, I was there at LaVell Edwards Stadium when BYU played Boise State and he had that last pick,” Nacua said. “We get the family seats because Kai’s on the team so we had good seats. Me and all my friends were sitting there and watching the game, but we got into trouble because we were so excited and jumped over the fence of the bleachers. We got pushed back up, but we were so excited because he got that interception. When the game was over we rushed the field and saw Kai. It was really nice.”
When Puka Nacua received his scholarship offer from BYU, his brother Kai was the second one to know.
“He was the second one I called,” Nacua said. “I called my mom first, but then after that I called him. He was saying, ‘Congrats bro! Keep working hard because you’re only a freshman. You know you’re lucky because you’re only a freshman. Love you.’”
Nacua is excited for the new era of BYU football under Kalani Sitake and believes the Cougars could be an underrated team against a strong schedule in 2016.
“I like BYU’s style of play,” Nacua said. “I think they could play some better games if they were in a conference, but this year they have a great schedule and I’m excited to see what they’re going to look like. Last year they had some rough games, but from what Kai has been telling me I really like what Coach Sitake is bringing. I’m assuming BYU is going to be pretty good this year.”
Puka started for both the varsity and junior varsity football teams at Orem High School in 2015. Next season he should see more playing time on the varsity squad.
“I played both junior varsity and varsity,” Nacua said. “I started four games for varsity, but I got a lot of playing time going in and out. I [also] played in three or four of the JV games.”
Not only did Nacua receive time playing wide receiver at the varsity level, but he also started as a point guard on the varsity basketball team as well.
“Basketball has been fun because our football season at Orem didn’t go too well last year,” Nacua said. “We went 4-6 so I jumped in to basketball with a lot going on in my head.”
Pushing nearly 6-2 and weighing 170-pounds, Nacua claims he can dunk a basketball but he’s yet to do it in a game out of fear he’ll miss it. However, he’s hoping one day he’ll dazzle the crowd with his hops.
“Yeah, I can slam dunk,” said Nacua with a laugh. “I haven’t done it in a game yet, but when no one is around I’m throwing down all the time. I’ve been waiting for the fast break so I can try and dunk it in a game. I want to take my time first though so I can for sure dunk it. I don’t want to be on the ESPN Not Top 10 because I tried and missed it.”