Former East HS (UT) running back Ula Tolutau committed to BYU over the weekend, becoming a large addition to the Cougars' 2017 class

Kalani Sitake and his BYU Cougars just hauled in one of the most sought-after returned missionaries in recent memory. Former East High School running back, and former Mr. Utah, Ula Tolutau, who signed with Wisconsin after rushing for 2,465 yards as high school senior, has committed to BYU over Utah, Utah State, and Oregon State.

He rushed for 308 yards against Kearns High School and 338 yards against Jordan High School his senior year averaging over 110 yards per game. Former East High School star Ula Tolutau is one the most prolific running backs in recent Utah history and has decided to attend BYU after having served an LDS mission.

“Right now I’m just happy because all the stress is over with,” said Tolutau. “Now I can just focus on other things and not have to worry about it. I’m just glad it’s over and I’m committed to BYU. Everything’s good now.”

After having served an LDS mission to Bakersfield, California, Tolutau came home to Utah a different person. He had matured and grown in many ways. What he thought he wanted in a college prior to his mission wasn’t what he felt was best for him upon his return home. So, he opened up his recruitment in which BYU, Utah, Oregon State, and Utah State quickly threw their hats into the ring.

“I’m not the same person as I was before my mission,” Tolutau said. “I’m a lot different now and think differently. There are things that are important to me and I want to stay close to those things. I just feel BYU would help me do that because it’s my church school.

“Growing up I was always a BYU fan. Now I think about always moving forward and always trying to be better. I think BYU is a great fit for me in many different ways. I think the offense would be a good fit, and also the surrounding at BYU is what’s best for me too. Overall, BYU is the best place to be.”

The religious fiber woven into the fabric of BYU played a very big role in Tolutau choosing BYU. Before any final commitment decision was made, Tolutau took the question of his future to his Heavenly Father for personal guidance.

“Oh, it played a big role for me in my decision,” said Tolutau. “You know, I prayed a lot to the Man upstairs and asked him for guidance. I just have that religious background always in the back of my head and wanted to do the right thing. I just felt BYU was the right place for me and my future.”

Tolutau decided not to wait any longer. When Kalani Sitake and Reno Mahe came to his home for an in-home visit, Tolutau sprang the good news on them.

“It was good and it was really easy going,” Tolutau said. “I was with my parents and I told Coach Sitake and Reno that I wanted to pull the trigger and come play for them. They were at my house for an in-home visit and I kind of surprised them with the news.”

One would think the news of one of the best running backs to ever come out of the state of Utah committing would cause unsuspecting coaches to burst with excitement right in the middle of the living room. However, upon springing the news, Tolutau said the opposite was the case.

“Well, you know how Coach Sitake is,” Tolutau said with a chuckle in his voice. “He’s really humble and very low key about things. Coach Sitake said he was honored and felt blessed that I wanted to join the family. I thanked him and my parents thanked him as well.”

Tolutau will enroll at BYU this January as a member of the 2017 class. He’ll participate in spring ball and he’s been preparing. Ever since he returned home from his mission, he’s been working out with many of the current members of East High School football team.

“Right now I’ve been going in a groove and working out and lifting since I’ve been back,” said Tolutau. “I lift with them every day and I’m just trying to get back. The stamina part isn’t quite there but I still have a lot of my strength. It’s been too long since I’ve played and I’m excited to get back to playing. I really can’t wait and it’s not just for football but to get going with the whole socializing aspect of BYU.

When Tolutau played at East High School, he was listed at 6-1, 240-pounds and ran a 4.6 second forty yard dash. Now he comes in at around 255-pounds, but Tolutau claims that although he’s added some weight he still has his speed.

“Yup, I still got it,” said Tolutau. “I was around 240-pounds my senior year, but right now I’m around 255. I want to get down to 225-pounds before the season starts. I want to be ready because it feels like a long time since the last time I played football. I can’t wait to get going.”

In conclusion, Tolutau said he is excited for the new adventure he is about embark on.

“Well, I’m going to BYU and it’s going to be a new experience for me, but it’s going to be a new experience at a place where I know I’m supposed to be,” Tolutau said. “It’s really exciting.”


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