Filiaga attracted a lot of recruiting attention early from Nebraska, Kentucky, Utah, BYU, Oregon Washington, Arizona, California, Boise State and Utah State, but most backed off because of reservations about whether he would be qualified to enter a Div. 1 college.
As a result, Filiaga verbally committed last month to Utah State (who accept Prop-48 athletes) and planned to play together with his first cousins, Brian and Justin Soi. Brian, a top 100 national recruit, signed with BYU last year, but was never able to meet minimum NCAA qualifying levels.
BYU coaches did not give up on him and Isley agreed to take a Jan. 23 recruiting visit to Provo. "Isley committed to Utah State before the coaches talked to him and convinced him to take his BYU trip."
He decided to decommit from Utah State and commit to BYU during his visit. Brian Soi was one of the first to call, congratulate and encouraged him to go to BYU.
"I'm really proud of Brian because of what he did," Tui Filiaga said of his nephew. "After Isley committed to BYU, a Utah State coach called and told him they heard he committed to BYU and said, ‘I figured you might do this.' Isley told the coach he felt (after prayer and fasting about it) he should go to BYU. He woke up and couldn't stop thinking about BYU," his father said.
Shortly after, his cousin Brian called. "All Brian did was support Isley. He didn't get mad or try to get him to come up to Utah State. He just told Isley to ‘tear it up down there uso (brother),' to represent (the family) and do his best at BYU," Tui confirmed.
Brian said he would do his best up there (Utah State) and someday they'll both be in the NFL and ‘kick it together.' I was proud of Brian to hear him support Isley like that," Tui said.
The Filiaga family goal is to do everything to make sure Isley passes his ACT test and improve his GPA. Tui Filiaga, for his part, said "I'll do what I have to do. I just paid for him to go to a program that will help him do better on the ACT. I'll do whatever it takes to help Isley get to BYU. If I have to go to his classes and miss my own, I'll do it," Tui said.
With a lifelong dream at stake for father and son, Tui said "Isley quit wrestling to concentrate on his school work."
Isley is arguably the country's strongest high school athlete in the weight room, having "pushed" 225 pounds 36 times in a Nike summer camp.
Tui said his goal is to help his son go "farther in life than I ever did. I tell him, ‘Son, I don't want you to be sitting here with the boys talking stories about what could have been when you're old and it's too late. I want you to be better than that. I want you to be better than me."
The father said his son battles some perceptions and obstacles beyond the classroom. "Some high school coaches and a lot of people felt that Isley was too short (5-11) to play college football. My wife asked (BYU defensive coordinator) Bronco Mendenhall if he felt Isley was too short? Mendenhall told her it didn't matter to him. "If he can play, he can play," he said. "I don't think those coaches have seen your son play," Mendenhall reassured her.
Isley's senior season was not as impressive as his junior campaign because he had a meniscus tear in his left knee and only played in eight games. Still, he racked up 14 sacks and more than 60 tackles, including an interception return for a 52-yard touchdown.
Consequently, Isley was absent from All-State teams and other post-season award listings.
"I told him (Isley) to look at the bigger picture. Isley was the only defensive tackle in Utah to be offered by BYU. I know what Isley can do and, it seems, the BYU coaches do also. I'm telling you, he is going to be ready to come in and help the team," Tui said.
© copyright by TotalBlueSports.com