Naufahi Tahi Running Stairs to BYU Success

Continuing a grueling pre-dawn regime started last year, one Cougar running back is running stairs most mornings at BYU with his father who acts as his tough-love motivational mentor.

"My dad comes down in the mornings and is still killing me," jokes Naufahu Tahi, who was named the running back starter yesterday for the Notre Dame game on Saturday.

Tahi admitted "there's still a little bit more I need to do. I could probably get my weight down more."

The 6-0, 230-pound junior running back says he has finally shaken the rust from his "mission legs" to become an integral part of BYU's revamped running attack.

"My legs feel really good," Tahi noted. "I feel much better than where I was last year. I was still trying to get over my mission legs, but don't have that problem now."

BYU's rushing attack suffered two major body blows last year with the loss of two potential starters in senior Reynaldo Brathwaite and junior Marcus Whalen to school honor code violations.

Their unexpected departure opened the door wide for Tahi and sophomore Curtis Brown, who have both looked efficiently effective in fall camp. "I feel good and I'm excited to play. I feel bad we lost the guys we did (Brathwaite and Whalen), but I'm happy for the opportunity I have to prove myself once again and get back to where I was in previous years," Tahi said.

In recent practices, Fahu showed his old form during scrimmages with power, speed and excellent pass-catching abilities out of the backfield. With the additions of speedy back Bryce Mahuika, fullback Moa Peaua, freshman sensation Raymond Hudson, and Brown coming off a redshirt year, Tahi feels BYU's backfield is very capable of surprising opponents this fall.

"I think we're fine. We have Curtis Brown and me along with the incoming freshman (Hudson), Bryce (Mahuika) and they moved Moa, the big horse, over to fullback. We're pretty excited with what has been happening. We look good and we're comfortable. The coaches have faith we can do our job and we're capable of doing that," Tahi said.

He pointed out two reasons the running backs will be more successful this season: experience and communication between the running backs and the offensive line.

"The experience is the big thing and the O-Line understands what they are supposed to do. The O-Line is doing a great job. They're letting us (running backs) know what they're doing and what we have to do in the backfield. It's going good."

Tahi continued that "we all know our responsibilities and I know we are going to play a big part in this offense this year. We've been doing the best we can. We're getting better and learning everyday."

The Tongan power runner noted the revamped positive outlook is an outcropping of the leadership, initiative and voluntary workouts most of the team participated in during the off-season.

"There's a big development there. Everybody's worked hard in the off-season and everybody worked hard together. The chemistry between us and the O-Line, quarterbacks, receivers and running backs is a lot tighter. Everybody is closer when they know they are doing their job and getting it done. It's working out really well," Tahi added.

"It's a lot different from where we were at this time last year. It's a different feeling with everybody when we come out to practice. Everybody's excited and working hard. The plays are getting executed. Everyone's doing their job and everybody's looking really good. I'm learning everyday. Coach (Lance) Reynolds is helping us to learn more and more everyday. It's looking good, real good."

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