Manaia Brown meets Ofa Mohetau

They walked onto a Euless LDS Chapel basketball court this afternoon and greeted each other as strangers. They walked off the court four hours later as fast friends.

The visitor from Utah invited the 'home boy' from Euless, Texas, afterwards to his brother's house ("just down the road") to play PS2 video games with him and his brothers late into the night.

Thus went the first face to face meeting between BYU sophomore defensive tackle Manaia Brown - one of the most anticipated new Cougar players in years, and Texas' Trinity High offensive lineman Ofa Mohetau - one of the most recruited high school football athletes in the country.

Ofa was named today by CNNSI as a High School All American.

One was Samoan, the other Tongan. Both had heard football-related stories about each other's exploits. The language they spoke on the basketball court was universal: push, shove, give and go.

"He's good (at basketball). He's a big kid and he carries his weight well. He's going to be a good offensive guard. Solid." That's how Manaia summarized Ofa on the basketball court.

"Even his brothers are good. He came with his older brother Sione and Pasa, a younger brother and starting sophomore offensive guard alongside Ofa on Trinity's team this year. Pasa's as tall and as big as Ofa."

Manaia was accompanied to the court by brother "June-boy," who also traveled to Euless from Utah with his family to spend the Christmas holidays with eldest brother Lio, a Delta Airlines employee in Dallas.

"I had my BYU t-shirt and shorts on. Ofa was wearing his Trinity t-shirt and shorts. I walked up an introduced myself to him. He was cool," Manaia began as he recounted their first meeting.

Manaia said they were joined by missionaries and local boys in pick up games. "Sometimes we were on the same team, other times we played against each other."

Since both measure up comparably in height and weight, Manaia was asked how they matched up against each other on the court: "He's quick. He's in good shape and moves real good for his size." And when they played each other? "His (Ofa's) team won. I wanted to make him feel good," Manaia said with a chuckle.

What about what BYU inquiring minds want to know?

"He's got a pretty good idea of what he wants and where he wants to go to college, but he wants to wait until he completes his recruiting trips before he commits," Manaia continued.

"I was really impressed with his emphasis on schooling. He said a degree was more important than football to him. BYU has a real good chance of signing him.

"I didn't push him too hard about BYU. I told him about the school, great education and the church environment with a lot of Poly's playing on the football team. He liked that a lot. He said that's exactly what he looking for in a school."

Manaia reinforced that Ofa will likely not make a verbal commitment until he completes his final recruiting trips to Texas, BYU and Miami.

"I'm looking forward to his trip to the Y. I told him I'll probably be his host and he really liked that. I don't know if I'm also hosting Brian (Soi), but that would be cool, too. We'll just eat a lot and play video games at my house," Manaia joked.

And if Ofa officially commits to BYU?

"I think he could be real good on the O-Line with Jake Kuresa and the other starters if they play next year. Our O-Line coach has to find a way to develop new trap plays for them because of their quickness. The line (offensive) is going to be real good and we've got the weapons with a good quarterback and great wide receivers next year.

"I don't think people realize how good we're going to be with the type of players and recruits we have. I can't wait for spring ball," Manaia concluded.


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