"I've known for about a month now that BYU was most likely the place that I'd commit to, but I wanted to set it in stone and look around a bit more before I committed," said J.J. DiLuigi. "That's why I took the trip, to compare BYU to what else was out there and I became more convinced than ever that BYU was the school that I needed to sign with after taking those trips."
DiLuigi liked BYU for a number of reasons, foremost of which was BYU's unique spiritual and academic environment, which he felt gave him everything he felt needed to grow as a football player and as a person. DiLuigi also spoke highly of his experience with members of the BYU football team.
"I loved the players I met on my trip," said DiLuigi. "They were so friendly and nice. BYU is the type of place that is like a family, and I like that. I felt real comfortable with all the players."
During his two previous visits to BYU, DiLuigi got along especially well with cornerback Brandon Howard and running back Curtis Brown. With Howard's background as a devout Baptist and Brown's experience converting to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while at BYU, the pair were able to educate the Catholic DiLuigi about life at LDS owned school.
"I really talked to Brandon Howard a lot while I was on my trips and he explained well what BYU was and what to expect, and it was all good," said DiLuigi. "Curtis Brown was a great guy to talk to as well along with every other player I met on my trips."
DiLuigi's appreciation of BYU did not stop with the environment and players. He also met and bonded with most of the Cougar coaching staff.
"Coach Lamb was the one who started recruiting me, but I got to know all the coaches real well on my trips," said DiLuigi. "I really hit it off most with Coach Reynolds and Coach Doman. They're both great guys. I also really like Duane Busby, who is the Director of Football Operations there. All of the coaches and the rest of the staff are the type of guys you want to play for."
Regarding head coach Bronco Mendenhall, The Canyon Hihg School product echoed what has now become a familiar chorus sung by BYU commits. DiLuigi spoke favorably of Coach Mendenhall's starigh-forward, no nonsense style. "You know that when he says something, it will happen," DiLuigi succinctly stated.
A Versatile Playmaker
DiLuigi is a 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back who set the field on fire at Canyon high school last season by amassing a league record of 43 touchdowns in a single season. He also has 1835 yards rushing and caught 33 passes for 530 yards.
Two things stand out on DiLuigi's highlight film. First, he is very fast, frequently separating himself from defenders during long touchdown runs. Second, he has a complete game. Second, he has a complete game. DiLuigi has excellent moves and field vision, and he catches the ball extremely well coming out of the backfield. His receiving skills are so good that he may see his first reps in BYU blue as a receiver.
Cougar coaches told DiLuigi that they want him to come in and immediately for the HR position, which is the slot position played primarily by Nathan Meikle last season. After that first year, DiLuigi may compete for the running back spot or remain at the HR position or play both.
"BYU's offense is perfect for me and the type of player I am," said DiLuigi. "I'm good in the open field, and I catch the ball really well, so playing in a spread offense matches my abilities well, which was a big reason why I committed to BYU. It's the type of system I can grow in to become the best football player I can be."
DiLuigi is not LDS so there is no missionary service in his future. He looks to come in a compete for a spot right away.
"I don't want to redshirt," said DiLuigi. "I want to come in and compete right away. That's my goal. BYU coaches feel that I'm a play-maker, and they need play-makers in this offense, which is what I aim to be."
Up Close and in Person
So what prompted a recruit to make the long trip back to Provo after having just visited the campus a week earlier on a tour of just about every other campus in the greater Northwest last week? DiLuigi stated a desire to let them know in-person rather than just give them a phone call considering the gravity of the situation.
"It just didn't seem right to just call them up and tell them," said DiLuigi. "After I've been through so much getting to know them and them getting to know me I just felt that I needed to go back there and tell them in person. I love it at BYU anyway, so traveling back there to tell them face-to-face just seemed like the right thing to do."
BYU coaches could not have been more appreciative of the gesture, according to DiLuigi.
"They told me they were ecstatic," said DiLuigi. "I talked a long time with them, and Coach Mendenhall let me know how pleased he was and told me again how he felt that BYU was the best place for me, and I totally agree with him on that."
For DiLuigi, football school and life in Provo is a perfect fit. In fact he likes the area so much that he may not leave even after he completes his degree.
"BYU and Provo isn't just a place I could see myself staying for just four years while attending school and playing football, but beyond that," he said. "It's the type of place I'd like to live after I graduate. I love BYU and everything about the city. I couldn't be happier with my decision."
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