Out of high school, A.J. Lolohea committed to and signed with Weber State prior to departing on an LDS mission. At 185-pounds, he was an undersized defensive lineman by D1 standards. However, a two-year LDS mission on the islands of his forefathers changed all that.
“BYU didn’t recruit me before my mission,” Lolohea said. “Kalani (Sitake) came to visit me a few times when he was at Utah, but I wasn’t as big before my mission as I am now. I’m around 6-3 and before my mission I weighed around 185-pounds but now I weigh 230. They [project] me at D-end but Kalani is still deciding between that and an outside linebacker.
Lolohea played for a time at Highland High School but ended up graduating from West High School. He signed with Weber then left for Tonga, but when he returned he had BYU as another option on the table.
“I just came back from my mission and kind of the knew the options were there because I signed with Weber State in 2014,” said Lolohea. “There is something about BYU that I knew I couldn’t get anywhere else, not only for academics but for football too. I wasn’t just thinking about football but about everything.”
It wouldn’t be long before he took an official visit to BYU where he learned so much about his church college that he didn’t know before.
“My visit to BYU was really good,” said Lolohea. “I really enjoyed it over there. The campus was great and I really like the feeling out there. The environment out there is the best for me because I just came home from my mission and want to be around people and coaches like that. Being in Provo, I like being in that kind of area. It was my first time being out here and being around BYU and I really liked it a lot.”
Raised in the Glendale area near Salt Lake City, Lolohea loved the environment of Provo and surrounding communities, but not only did the environment sell Lolohea that BYU was the place to be but the type of coaches found there was also a very strong selling point.
“The staff up there at BYU is incredible and it just feels like home,” Lolohea said. “I just feel a really close bond with them and it’s like a family bond. I can tell with all the new coaches and with Kalani up there BYU has a new mindset.
“I’m also related to Kalani and he’s my second cousin, so he really is my family and that is also a really cool thing. I just think BYU is the right place for me because of so many different reasons outside of football.”
The trick for Coach Sitake now is to find a spot for Lolohea. He’s big enough to play defensive end but he’s big and quick enough to potentially play the outside linebacker position much like Francis Bernard.
“Kalani still trying to decide on what they want me to do, but I can be that speed rushing D-end on the outside or an outside backer. I know Kalani doesn’t want that bull rushing D-end. He wants that quick and fast speed rushing end and that’s I can be if they decide to play at the D-end position.”
Lolohea was being recruited by Utah as well as Utah State and Weber State in high school but will enroll at BYU in January as a member of the 2017 class.
“I’m going to enroll at BYU in January,” Lolohea said. “I decided that BYU was the best place for me. I spoke to Kalani and to Fesi, because you know how Kalani’s brother, Fesi, is a coach at Weber, and they just said that they would support whatever decision I feel is best for me. Kalani told me to pray about it and so I did. I just feel that BYU is the place for me, so I’ll enroll next month and I’m ready to get going.”