DT Isley Filiaga is Watching, Learning and Waiting

He is arguably the strongest prep defensive tackle in the country. He attends all BYU football practices and defensive team meetings soaking up every word and instructions like a sponge. More than anything else, he anxiously awaits the opportunity to wring out his frustrations on Cougar opponents this fall and beyond.

Isley Filiaga, the 5-11, 285-pound defensive standout with a 4.9/40 who has set Utah prep weightlifting records with a current bench press of 495 pounds, is awaiting the academic eligibility green light from the NCAA Clearinghouse before he can suit up and play this fall for the Cougars.

"It's been a long wait, but it will be worth the wait when it passes. All I'm waiting for right now is a letter of acceptance from my high school (Timpanogos) saying they accepted the classes I took at another high school (Timpview). I'm supposed to fax it over and wait to hear what the NCAA says about it," Filiaga said.

According to Filiaga, BYU coaches are optimistic he will qualify based on their review of his transcripts. "They went over all my transcripts twice. They said the only way the NCAA won't pass me is if they won't accept the credits that I've done already," he said.

Meanwhile, Filiaga feels like a kid stuck in a never-ending Christmas Eve time warp watching and waiting with high anticipation.

"I hate watching practice because it gets me so pumped up," Filiaga said. "I have to walk around and stuff. I'm allowed to go on the Internet and check with the NCAA Clearinghouse. Every time I go in there, it just says ‘your files are under review.' I'm just waiting for them to clear me. When it's done, I'm good. I'm hoping this next week."

He admitted it has been especially difficult watching his future Cougar teammates. "It's been hard, man, but it's prepared me for coach (Bronco) Mendenhall's defense.

"I'm glad I got this opportunity to wait and watch how everything happens. When I come in, I already know how everything is. To me, it's a blessing in disguise to tell you the truth. I want to practice, but I'm learning the plays and all that. When I go into practice with the team, I won't be far behind. I study the plays. I go to the meetings and everything. The only thing I don't do is practice, but I go to practice and learn with them," said Filiaga.

So what does one of Utah's top 2003 defensive recruits think of the BYU defense he hopes to join soon?

"I love the defense. The defense is going to be solid this year. Coach Mendenhall is a good coach and I love him. We don't talk all that much, but he gets done what needs to be done. Everyday we go into our first meetings around 9 a.m., he gives us a boost, a quote for the day. He tells us we need to work hard and get our mind right," Filiaga noted.

Over the summer, Filiaga was put through a strenuous strength and conditioning regime by his father Tui, a personal trainer for current Seattle Seahawks tight end Itula Mili, BYU walk-on Siua Sikona and wide receiver prospect Spencer Hafoka from Hawaii.

"Siua's a hard worker," Filiaga pointed out. "He does what needs to be done. Spencer Hafoka (wide receiver from Kahuku High being recruited by BYU), he's just bad. He's going to be good this year. He's fast, quick and everything. He has a very good work ethic."

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