BYU’s coaching staff and their ability to evaluate young talent has been vindicated over time with the caliber of offers from other prestigious colleges who’ve called late in the recruiting game. In the 2021 recruiting class, BYU has made unprecedented leaps in securing the verbal commitments from three prospects. The latest is 6-2, 195-pound defensive end Ricky Wolfgramm, who decided he wanted to be a BYU Cougar.
“We were watching a movie at our house called Hacksaw Ridge when my dad came in and asked me if I wanted to commit to BYU” recalled Ricky Wolfgramm. “I told him that I wanted to commit so he said, ‘Alright here’s the phone.’ I told Coach Tuiaki that I wanted to commit and he was excited.”
“I let him think about it for a couple of days after we were at Ilaisa Tuiaki’s house on Sunday,” said Ricky’s father Karl Wolfgramm. “We were there on Sunday to have him explain to us the recruiting process, and so I let Ricky think about it for a few days. Then I saw Logan Fano had committed to BYU. We know Logan from the camps up at the U, so Fano had committed and then Raider [Damuni] had already committed. I was like, ‘Hey, now is the time to commit because we have these two committed already. What do you want to do?’ Ricky said, ‘I want to commit. I want to do it now so I said, ‘Alright, let’s call him.’ That’s when Ricky called Coach Tuiaki.”
Watching his son play football against others at an early age, Karl Wolfgramm noticed his son’s athletic ability was greater than those around him. Noticing his son’s on-field domination at an early age, Karl Wolfgramm told his son that he should commit to the first college that comes calling. Years later those words proved to be prophetic.
“I’m very excited for my son,” said Karl Wolfgramm. “I first told him, when I first noticed he was doing really well in football, I said, ‘Hey, whoever comes to you first take it because I’m not picky. All I care about for you is to get in college and get a good education because I won’t be able to pay for it. I got lucky that BYU saw and offered him first.”
However, it wasn’t just Ricky’s father Karl who noticed his son’s ability was advanced. BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki noticed Ricky’s unusual athletic ability at a young age as well and encourage young Ricky to play football.
“Ilaisa had noticed his athletic ability ever since he was in the third grade,” said Karl Wolfgramm. “Ilaisa noticed his athleticism ever since then but he wasn’t playing football at the time, so Ilaisa would invite him to the youth football camps. That was when Ilaisa and Kalani were both at [Utah]. They would throw him in there to go against the fifth and sixth-graders and that’s when Ilaisa notice it.”
With the commitments of Ricky Wolfgramm and Logan Fano, BYU now has two defensive ends on board in the 2021 class. But the question is why commit now? Well, Ricky Wolfgramm explains.
“I wanted to commit to BYU because BYU is a part of the church and I want to stay strong in my faith. BYU is also the first to offer me and it’s close to home. I also love the staff and wanted to play for BYU.”
Another reason why Ricky Wolfgramm wanted to commit early to BYU is because of Ilaisa Tuiaki, who recognized Ricky’s talent at a very young age.
“I love Coach Tuiaki and he’s awesome! He’s been with me ever since I started playing football. He’s helped me grow and develop as a player by teaching me a lot of things I needed to know over the past years. He coached me a lot at camps at Utah, Utah State and BYU.”
Ricky Wolfgramm is also related to BYU’s defensive line coach, Steve Kaufusi. The Wolfgramm and Kaufusi families are originally from the small village of Koloa on the Tongan island of Vava’u.
With four years of high school football still to play, Wolfgramm understands now more than ever he has to be worthy of the offer when he graduates in 2021.
“First off I have to keep my grades up so no B’s or C’s. [I need to] make sure my grades are always good,” said Wolfgramm. “Then I have to prepare for my mission and serve the Lord wherever he needs me. Then after that I want to come back and play football.”
It stands to reason that Wolfgramm will undoubtedly be on the recruiting radar of other programs around the country now that BYU has done their evaluation and secured an early verbal commitment. For Ricky Wolfgramm this doesn’t really matter to him at this point in time. Right now it’s all about BYU regardless of who comes calling for his services over the next four years.
“Well, I’ll see about their standards but other than that I’m just going to stay here at BYU,” Ricky Wolfgramm said. “I just feel blessed by the Lord and by all those that supported me. Not many people get this chance to be offered and play for their dream school. Many in high school don’t have scholarships, and I’m not even in high school yet. So, I just feel blessed by the Lord to have the chance to be committed to BYU.”