It wasn’t the sound of an alarm clock that woke Diablo Valley College lineman John Vaka from a deep sleep. No, it was the ring tone of his phone that brought him back from dream land. But when the voice on the other end told him he was being offered by the BYU Cougars, Vaka had to pinch himself to make sure this was an actual dream come true.
“The offer from BYU came a few weeks ago from Coach Tuiaki,” said Vaka. “He called me in the morning one day and woke me up. I was knocked out but he kept calling and calling and eventually I woke up. He was like, ‘Look, we recruit guys that don’t mess and slack off.’ I was like, ‘Of course coach, BYU is my dream school.’ Then he offered me right there.”
Speechless, Vaka couldn’t believe what he had just heard from BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki.
“When he offered I was sitting in my bed and I just put the phone down and thanked God,” said Vaka. “I really couldn’t believe what had just happened. I had a cousin who played there and I used to watch him on TV. Ever since then I’ve always wanted to play at BYU, so when Coach Tuiaki offered me it was a special moment that I’ll probably never forget.
“It was really cool because the day before Coach Tuiaki offered me he came down to see me. We spent a little time together. I wasn’t thinking he was going to offer me so soon, but then the next day he offered me early in the morning. It was a really cool way to start my day.”
Back in 2006, BYU signed Laney Community College prospect Mosese Foketi, who played defensive tackle for BYU. Foketi is Vaka’s first cousin and ever since seeing his cousin play at BYU, Vaka has dreamed of playing at BYU as well.
“Mosese Foketi is my first cousin,” said Vaka. “He’s from out here in the Bay Area but he loved it out there. He still lives out there and that is really surprising. To leave the Bay Area and stay out in Utah is really surprising but he still lives out there.”
However, there’s more to the reasoning as to why John Vaka wants to play at BYU than simply having a first cousin who played there.
“Well, I’m a member of the LDS faith first of all and BYU is my church college, so that’s why BYU is my dream school,” said Vaka. “Growing up in the Bay Area there are a lot of things that can distract you. I feel like if I go out to Utah I’ll be around people my age living church standards. I just feel I’ll stay on track out there in Utah rather than living out here in California.”
Coming in at 6-4 and 275-pounds, Vaka runs very well for his size. He has a long stride and plays the game at offensive tackle with a nastiness of a defensive lineman.
“I started off last season playing defensive end and then I played some tight end,” said Vaka. “Then a couple of offensive linemen went down so they moved me over to offensive tackle. All of the colleges that have offered me want me at offensive tackle. BYU wants me as an offensive tackle.
“I kind of play offensive tackle like a defensive player. I’m not going to lie, I like to hit people. I have long arms and legs and like to run down field and get into that second level to open up holes for our backs.”
While Vaka has a few offers already under his belt, it’s the offer from BYU that Vaka views as his most prized.
“I have quite a few offers but they’re not BYU offers,” said Vaka. “I’m grateful for all the offers I have but they’re not to the level of BYU. I was offered by Washington State, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Idaho, UCF, New Mexico, and Colorado. They’re good colleges, but they’re not BYU.”
Vaka plans on graduating from Diablo Valley College this December and then enrolling at his next school so he can be a part of spring ball to get an early start. He wants to make a final decision on where to play college ball prior to the 2016 football season so he can focus on graduating this December.
“I redshirted when I got back from my mission in 2014,” said Vaka. “Then I played last year in 2015 and I’ll graduate this December and will be able to play in spring ball next year. It’s been kind of a shock to me getting all these offers. I would like to have my mind set before my last season that way I can have a goal in my mind on what I want to do. I want to have things done before the season so I can focus on my last season and just go from there.”