A senior this year for the Wai’anae High School football team, Onesimus Lutu-Clarke has flown way under the radar, which is surprising given the fact he’s a pancaking machine. Then along came a BYU coach who spotted his talents during the Gridiron Performance Academy which was recently held in Hawaii.
“It was really shocking and it happened so fast,” said Lutu-Clarke. “I went to this camp called the GPA camp and it’s the biggest college camp that we have. I started doing a couple drills and I noticed a college coach came over and evaluated me. Then about 10 minutes later he came back but brought about five different coaches with him. They asked me where my parents were. I told them, ‘I believe they’ll be here pretty soon but I’m not sure when they’ll be here.’”
An offensive tackle, Lutu-Clarke’s size and athleticism caught the attention of BYU’s coaches which led to his being extended an offer.
“The position I play is left tackle,” said Lutu-Clarke. “I think what some of my strengths are is that they BYU coaches said that I’m unbelievably athletic for my size. I’m 6-5, 310-pounds and move really well for my size. That is what the BYU coaches liked about my playing ability.
“I guess I was performing at an excellent level. I was one of the final five offensive lineman chosen at the camp to go do one-on-one’s at the camp. I guess they spotted me and evaluated me on the spot. Right after that another college (Oregon State) also came over and offered me on the spot.”
The BYU coaches spoke with his parents and informed them that they were extending him his first division one scholarship offer.
“As soon as my parents came they spoke to them while I was still practicing,” said Lutu-Clarke. “When I got into the car my dad asked me, ‘How was practice today?’ I told him it was good and then asked him, ‘Hey dad a couple couches came up to you and I was wondering what they said?’ He said, ‘Oh, they just spoke very highly of you.’”
Still wondering what the meeting was about, Lutu-Clarke continued to inquire about the conversation.
“I said, ‘Oh yeah? What else did they say?’” inquired a curious and eager Lutu-Clarke. “My dad said, ‘Oh, they gave you some offer or some full ride scholarship or something like that.’ It was so exciting for me to hear that! It was so exciting to know that my parents wouldn’t have to worry and that I can get my schooling paid for. I felt like the next four years of my life were set and all I need to do is make sure I qualify to get into college. It was a really exciting thing for me. I really feel blessed.”
Although his parents acted nonchalant about the exciting news, the reality of the matter is they knew exactly what had just happened. Lutu-Clarke had achieved something his parents had been stressing to him and that was to earn a college scholarship.
“Yeah, they knew what it meant,” said Lutu-Clarke with a chuckle in his voice. “That’s one of the biggest things my parents stressed to me was getting a scholarship because they told me they couldn’t pay for my schooling. They told me that financially they wouldn’t be able to help me with school.”
Although Lutu-Clarke resides in the state of Hawaii he’s already seen and unofficially visited BYU’s campus after attending the All Poly camp this summer. He took in the sights and experienced the unique environment found only at BYU.
“Yes I know about BYU and their honor code, and that’s something we have in my family as well,” said Lutu-Clarke. “I had a chance to go and visit BYU’s camp about a month ago. I was visiting the All Poly and went down to BYU. I saw how they interact with each other and it was like a family, a true family. I saw how they stick together and it was truly amazing to see that.
“It was truly amazing for me being out there. I saw air conditioning in their weight room and I’ve never seen that before. I saw what kind of food they had and thought, “Oh man, this is amazing!’ I saw the indoor facility and all their facilities. It was really amazing. The thing that really stood out to me was seeing all the locals there and all the Poly’s that were there. Knowing that there are a lot of players come from Hawaii, Samoa, and Tonga there, and that they all stick together, was like being back home in Hawaii. I think it will make it easier being away from home for me.”
Lutu-Clarke feels blessed to have received the opportunity to play football at a university that places God, character, and moral values as part of the curriculum. He knows of the social ills that often plague college campus and is looking to surround himself with like-minded people.
“Also BYU isn’t just a regular school, it’s a religious school, so they put God first in their lives and that’s something that is really important to me,” he said. “Being around people who put God first in their lives will make it easier for me to be around that type of environment. Surrounding myself with people who have goals and put God first in their lives is an extremely phenomenal opportunity for me.”
The uniqueness found at BYU just might be a perfect fit for what Lutu-Clarke is looking for at the next level. He isn’t ready to make a final decision now, but come November he plans on making his intentions known.
“Right now BYU stands very high on my list,” said Lutu-Clarke. “At the same time I’m just starting to get recruited now so I’ll wait a little bit before I make my final decision. If I had to sign today I would be signing with BYU. I made a date and on November 21st, just two days after the football season here in Hawaii, I’ll make a decision on where I want to play. Then after that I’ll sign.”