Go East Young Man

A talented Kahuku defensive tackle packed his bags and headed for the mainland last winter. He brought with him two written offers in addition to five verbals. One of those offers came from BYU.

With one more season to play, defensive tackle Joseph Faifili, looks to the season a good one for Granger High School.

"I'm 6'3, 294 pounds," Faifili said. "I haven't played for Granger yet but I did play for Kahuku. I moved down here this past December. The season went great for me, yeah it went great but we didn't go as far as we wanted to. I played with Spencer Hafoka [BYU] and Al Afalava [Oregon State]. I started ever since I was a sophomore on varsity. I'm a junior now and I'll play on the defensive line for my senior year. I practiced on the offense once in a while but since there are so many people playing at Kahuku I wasn't able to go both ways. I miss playing down there but I made the big step up to Utah to play football up here."

So why did he move to Utah?

"Just better opportunities and my whole family moved up here," Faifili said.

Currently Faifili has quite a few offers, both written and verbal, that he is excited about.

"Yeah, the schools I've actually got papers saying that say they've offered are Arizona and BYU," said Faifili. "The schools that have said they were going to offer but want to check off on a few things first are Arizona, UNLV, New Mexico State, USC—I just finished sending a video to them—Utah, Hawaii, Colorado and I've probably missed a few schools.

"Those who've said on the phone they've offered are New Mexico State, UNLV, Utah, Arizona State and Colorado,"

Faifili currently favors BYU over Arizona, however, there are a few things he likes about Arizona.

"Arizona, I looked up their school and the place seems to be nice and I looked up their academic stuff and they seem to have a good academic program," Faifili said.

Faifili is carefully researching the academic programs at each of his college suitors because quality academics are very important to him. In regards to BYU, Faifili is LDS but is not quite sure at this point if he will serve an LDS mission.

If his family were to choose his college for him, Faifili would be wearing Cougar Blue this fall.

"[My family] likes [BYU] a lot," said Faifili. "I guess because it has been in the extended family and my grandpa wanted me to go there."

Family aside, BYU is attractive to Faifili because of their academic programs and how they attend to their students. He likes their facilities and knows many of the players currently on the roster. He also knows the BYU coaches and likes the fact the campus is close to home and family.

"It's nice that BYU offered me because at BYU I know a lot of people there and if I were to go there it would feel like home," he said. "I know the area, I know the people there, I know the coaches and they came to Kahuku a couple of times and I went to BYU when they had their spring ball and stuff. I like their facilities; they have a lot of nice stuff over there, and the way they follow up on the students in keeping them in check and stuff with academics.

"The academics program at BYU, it really focuses on the up and coming freshman. They said that they don't want people to come and say it's too hard then leave before their sophomore year, so they really get down on you as a freshman to help you with your habits of working and then they watch you throughout the years while you're in school."

Having been to a few spring practices at BYU, Faifili was impressed with how hard the team worked.

"They got a lot of heart," said Faifili. "Everyone is there not just because they have a scholarship and are good at football, but because they want to be there and love football.

"They're hard workers and they don't slack off. I like that because I want to go to a school where if someone slacks, off the coaches don't let that go. Like, everyone works hard there and I like that."

Faifili was also impressed with the BYU coaching staff. He liked how Coach Steve Kaufusi worked the D-line. Coach Bronco Mendenhall caught Faifili's attention when the coach shared his vision of BYU.

"I talked to Steve Kaufusi," said Faifili. "He's their D-line coach and he said it would be great to have me over there as an addition to their defense. He said if I could get their schemes down it work out really good for me. He's a good coach and I like what he looks for in defensive linemen and the way he works out the line. He makes you work and it doesn't matter if you're a senior or a junior the best will play for him and that's what I like about him.

"I also talked to their head coach Bronco Mendenhall and he asked me if this was a place where I would want to play. He told me that they really get on the fact about honor and spirit and how they're going to bring that back to BYU because back in the days they had a lot of glory, and a lot of things changed and he wants to bring that back to BYU. I think that's pretty cool you know."

BYU's academics and the student athlete center that allows players to focus more on academics is a plus for Faifili. Many members of his family are BYU fans and he has a lot of ties to the university. His mother grew up with BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae back on the islands, for one.

"The Hafoka family over there and Coach Anae and Coach Kaufusi [are family friends]," said Faifili. "Coach Anae grew up with my mom. I have a lot of friends and family who go to BYU so it would probably feel a lot like home."

Faifili would like is to sign with a program that is already successful. He also wants to be a part of a hard working team that is successful and that is also filled successful people.

"I look for the type of coaching that a program has and the amount of people they have at the school," he said. "Football wise, I know this might sound wrong, but the type of season they've had. I want to go to a school with a winning record and be apart of a winning program. There are teams with a lot of all-stars here and there, but I think it would be better to be on a team of all-stars."

Faifili stated his current GPA is around a 2.9 or 3.0, and he is planning on taking the ACT this June. He is not sure if he will be attending BYU's summer camp in June having already visited the campus many times. He will be attending a few other camps this summer though.

"I'm not sure," he said. "We have a lot of things going on like the Weber State camp, the Yewt Shoot and the Kava bowl so I'm not sure."

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