Last year he was playing prep ball at Heritage High School located in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Now a true freshman, Aleva Hifo is catching footballs from senior quarterback Taysom Hill as one of the only players in the BYU signing class of 2016 to do so. Hifo admits his first step out onto the field in front of a packed stadium at Rice-Eccles Stadium was a little nerve-wracking
"Yeah, I was a little nervous being a part of the environment and being out on the field and seeing all the fans that came out to watch," said Hifo. "It was crazy and it was loud."
While Hifo caught a pass during the game against Utah, he's being looked at to broaden his role against the UCLA Bruins. Against UCLA, Hifo is expected to see some playing time as a wide receiver while fielding kick return duties on special teams in his first ever home game as a BYU Cougar.
"Yeah, I'm going to return kicks this week against UCLA," Hifo said. "Also, there are a couple personnel packages set for me, so whatever the situation is out on the field, and whatever they see fit, I'll get a chance to be more involved. It's going to be fun going against the team from my hometown."
In evaluating the Bruin secondary, Hifo expects to see a smaller, yet talented UCLA defensive backfield much like what he faced against Utah.
"A lot of their secondary are skilled returners," Hifo said. "They're littler guys but they're really talented players. It's going to be a challenge for us again this weekend. We've watched a lot of film this week, and we kind of looked back at the Utah game to fix a few wide receiver things so we could move forward and be more productive against UCLA. There are a couple of packages where I motion out of the backfield to try and create a mismatch. It really just depends on the setting we're facing."
Little by little, offensive coordinator Ty Detmer is integrating Hifo more into the BYU offense. From kick returns to motioning out of the backfield, Hifo is a rising star within an offense that has yet to break out.
"No one has really seen what our offense can do," Hifo said. "Basically, the guys at our skill positions haven't really broken out yet. Obviously everyone has seen what Jamaal can do and everyone trusts him with the ball in our hands, but we definitely have more guys in the backfield and receivers that can shine as well. We definitely are going to try and show more of what we as a receiver corps can do in this game against UCLA.
"The new receivers are trying to gel with some of the veteran receivers returning in our offense. We're trying to get used to this offense because this is a new offense for all of us, whether you were here last year or are a freshman receiver. Don't worry though, we'll get it down and we'll show out too."
The Cougars will host the UCLA tomorrow night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.. It will be Hifo's first home game experience as a Cougar player. It's an experience he can't wait for.
"I'm looking forward to seeing all the BYU fans dressed out in blue and white at Lavell Edwards Stadium," said Hifo. "It's going to be crazy seeing all those people there supporting us. I've been to a BYU game before and I can't wait to be a part of it as a player on the field rather than someone in the stands. I'm excited to feel the excitement and be in the middle of that atmosphere. It's going to be exciting."