Saia Hafoka Keenly Aware of Stiff WR Competition

A former Kahuku High star wide receiver that signed with BYU and promptly left for an LDS mission right out of high school to Nicaragua in Central America is back and raring to go.

Fresh off his mission, Saia Hafoka is actively preparing for football life at BYU as his younger brother Spencer Hafoka, considered possibly the best LDS wide receiver prospect in the country, is also being aggressively recruited by BYU and other major colleges.

Leaving Hawaii for Central America was quite an adjustment for Saia, but his experiences in that third-world country has given him a much greater appreciation for many of life's simple pleasures.

"I just got back about a month and a half ago," Hafoka said. "I graduated in 2001 and just got home. It was different being in Nicaragua. It's much different than being here in Hawaii. Different people and stuff, but it was really good. Everything is different. The government and the people are different. The (LDS) Church is still pretty new; in the whole country, there are only two stakes and about 45,000 members," he added.

Even still, getting used to being home again with family and friends took some getting used to. "I'm fine now. I was kind of weird about it. On Fridays, I would be home reading my scriptures. I still don't watch that much TV."

Hafoka has turned his single-minded attention and focus again to BYU football, getting both his conditioning regimen and academics in order. "I've talked to Coach Hamblin (BYU academic advisor) a couple of times just to get classes and stuff done. He took care of everything for me," said Hafoka. "I heard they recruited a lot of good receivers, so it's going to be hard to work for a spot now. I heard some pretty good stuff about their receivers and the quarterbacks. I heard they've got some good quarterbacks this year, too."

Hafoka said he was pleasantly surprised to learn how many Polynesians currently on the BYU football team. "I heard there was a lot of Polys over there. I hear things all the time and every time you hear a name its like, ‘Hey, that's a Poly kid!' Then you hear another name and its like, ‘Hey, that's another Poly kid!' I know David (Tafuna), Bryce (Mahuika) over there in Utah. I met David in Utah and I met Bryce on a recruiting trip. It's starting to sounds like Hawaii on the mainland," he joked.

Coming in at 5-10, 180 pounds with a 4.5/40 the last time he was clocked, Hafoka is moving to Provo next month to get an early start at "getting my legs back," admitting he is out of shape. "I gotta get away from the beans and rice," laughed Hafoka. "I'm excited. I'm coming up in about a month, but I start class in the fall."

He is also excited to see the new indoor practice facility and student center facilities he has heard so much about. "I'm very excited. I was gone when they were building them. It's gonna be sweet, man."

Hafoka is keenly aware of all the mounting recruiting attention directed to younger brother Spencer. "He (Spencer Hafoka) just said he wants to go play ball somewhere, but I don't know where. He's way better than I was. All kinds of schools are looking at him."

Hafoka said that Spencer will follow him to BYU to attend this year's summer camp. "He's coming up, I think, the first week of the camp. I'll try and get him up there. He likes it a lot up there and his favorite uncle (Kalepi Ofahengaue) is up there.

Kalepi and Tevita Ofahengaue, the two younger brothers of Saia's mother, both played football at BYU for Lavell Edwards.

Kalepi is currently an assistant football coach at Lone Peak High School (Utah) and is very involved in developing the talents of local Polynesian kids. One prospect, Brian Vau'ulu of Alta High School, is expected to be a big Polynesian offensive line recruit in the future.

Tevita was a tough Cougar tight end and was the last player picked in the NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He is no longer playing football, but is working towards a graduate degree at BYU and is applying for a graduate assistant position with several universities.

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