He held offers from programs like Alabama, Clemson, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Cal, Arizona, Utah, and BYU as a member of the 2015 recruiting class. However, Breiden Fehoko followed his older brother Sam Fehoko, who played linebacker, to Texas Tech, where he started 25 games during his two seasons in Lubbock.
“I’ve enjoyed my first two years of college, but right now I’m looking for a new home for me,” Fehoko said. “It was the right place at the wrong time. I just feel me going somewhere else now to find the right place at the right time is a blessing for me. I’ve only known one career in my life and that’s football, so I want to get it right.”
The revolving coaching carousel that took place at Texas Tech took a toll on Fehoko. He’s looking for stability in order to maximize his potential.
“I just felt like my development as a defensive lineman has been kind of hard because I had three D-line coaches in the past two years,” he said. “Going through different defensive coordinators with different coaching made it hard to develop myself as a player. You have to get adjusted to different kind of coaching and different kinds of schemes. That was kind of the hard part for me was getting around the revolving door, so this time around I’m looking for stability and a place that’s going to help me develop. I want to make the most of the years I have left.”
Fehoko started every game he played in as a Red Raider. With the decision to transfer he’ll have to sit out a year. However, Fehoko views the waiting period as a good thing.
“I have to sit out a year but I haven’t redshirted yet because I started both years,” Fehoko said. “I’m looking at it as a more positive situation than a negative. I look at it as a year to develop my skills as an athlete, learn the system, and then hit the ground running and be ready to go.”
While it’s been a difficult decision, Fehoko looks at his second chance to get it right a blessing having learned so much in such a short time.
“Everyone just kind of looks at it like, ‘Oh man, you have to sit out a year!’” Fehoko said. “But for me I just look at this as a blessing. I have a second opportunity to make the right decision.”
Knowing that staying in Lubbock and a starting position could be enticing, Fehoko made the difficult decision to leave Texas Tech in an effort to follow the convictions of his heart.
“That’s a big thing too because it’s not easy,” said Fehoko. “I wouldn’t say no one else has courage, but it’s always easy to stay in a place and feel comfortable with their current situation. It’s easy when something’s in place already and just keep going along with it and go with the flow. I had to really step out of my comfort and say, ‘You know what? If I want to further in my career and expand my development as a player I’m going to need to take this next step in my life. I’m going to need to transfer.’”
Last week Fehoko received a scholarship offer from BYU head coach Kalani Sitake who knows Fehoko well, having recruited him at a young age. Fehoko spoke to Coach Sitake last Thursday and the two got reacquainted.
“I got to speak with Kalani last Thursday and it was really good to hear from him,” Fehoko said. “He’s a great role model and a big brother type mentor, so it was so good to talk to him especially now that he’s in a different position of authority.
“It’s different now and with him being so young can relate to the players more from a football standpoint. I think he’s so good with, especially with the young Polynesian recruits, at being able to relate to them. They feed off of his energy and going 9-4 in his first year as a head coach was pretty dang good, and they play similar opponents as us and they played them a lot better than we did.”
Having established that relationship years ago, Fehoko is excited about the possibility of playing for Coach Sitake now that he’s BYU’s head coach.
“I’m always excited for the opportunity to play for him,” said Fehoko. “When he offered me I wasn’t surprised but it was one of those things where you’ve developed that relationship over time. He knows what kind of player I am, and I’ve been coached by him many times. It becomes second nature like family because you know what he’s trying to bring to the table. For me I’m just excited and happy because I know his staff too and get to start the process with a second chance.”
Having been through the recruiting process before, Fehoko is a little older and a little wiser. The focus now is about substance and taking a look at what’s best for him both as an athlete and person rather than hype and empty promises.
“It’s not about the name of a school, or how much money I get, and how many bowl games they’ve been through and all this and that,” said Fehoko. “I think this time around it’s about seeing how the players vibe with the coaches and how well the coaches are coaching up the players and developing technique. I want to sit in on the meetings, and I want to experience what their workouts are like.
“I want to see the little things like coaching and just how well the team interacts with each other. That’s a big thing is team chemistry. Those are some of the things I’m looking for this time around and not all the fancy stuff like I was the first time around like the name of the school, championships, and things like that. “I’m so grateful that I get to go through this again.”
When it comes to the football field, being able to put his size, strength, and abilities to use in a defensive system that allows him to play up to his fullest is also something Fehoko is looking for this time around.
“I’m still 6-3, 301-pounds and have added some good muscle weight while in college,” said Fehoko. “I haven’t bench pressed in a while but if I had to give a max press I would say I could throw up around 495 or 500 maybe. For squat I could put around 580 or 585 pounds.
“We ran a base three front at Texas Tech. That’s kind of the thing that just didn’t sit well with me was how conservative we played. I think it goes to show about Big 12 football which is a pass heavy conference with the exception of Kansas State, I’ve seen a lot of teams play conservative in the hopes that some teams don’t pass for 500 yards. That’s why we would run a three man front and drop eight men back.”
Fehoko saw how well BYU played in 2016 despite having to learn a new system on both sides of the ball. It’s something that has caught his attention.
“I thought they played really well and led the country in takeaways, which is big,” Fehoko said. “They’re a stop the run defense with a top pass defense and it just goes to show, I think, the level of coaching and execution. To see the stats and outcome BYU had with that schedule was really big for me.”
He plans on visiting BYU and taking a closer look at what BYU has to offer now that Coach Sitake and many others close to him are there.
“Oh yeah for sure because that was one thing I didn’t do my first time around because I was so committed to Texas Tech,” Fehoko said. “I now kind of have a chance to weigh all my options. This time around I want to make sure I don’t make the wrong decision. I want to make sure that everything for me is the right fit. I want to definitely take a visit there and see everything firsthand, which I’m kind of looking forward to because I have a lot of family there. I’m looking forward to going through this whole process again and seeing everything that I missed out on the first time around.”
Both BYU and Utah have offered Fehoko as a transfer and more programs are likely to offer. How the search to find the right fit will begin but that search will take place when colleges are running through their spring practices. That way Fehoko can get a better assessment of the football programs he’s looking to possibly be a part of.
“I think I want to start doing visits around spring ball,” Fehoko said. “That’s kind of my mindset right now. I want to go when schools are in practice and workout sessions. Then I probably won’t make a decision probably till early to mid-April after I consider everything, put some serious thought into it, and then pray about it.”