Leung-Wai worth the Wait

Retail marketing firms already sold the consuming public on Christmas in July, well it looks like BYU is trying to make LOI Day in June part of the college football vernacular. The Cougars landed their fourth commitment of the week and 16th of the recruiting class earlier today.

Aveni Leung-Wai grew up on the Hawaiian island of Oahu believing he was not a good fit for BYU. After a year at Grossmont College in southern California and what he termed as a "spiritual awakening," Leung-Wai decided to commit to be a Cougar.

An Unexpected Route

Leung-Wai never thought he would end up playing football in Provo. As a young man at Aiea High School in Aiea, Hawaii, he did not think he would be compatible with the lifestyle and expectation of the flagship university for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"It wasn't that I didn't like BYU, I did very much," said Leung-Wai. "I just really didn't think I could fit in there academically or even spiritually. Utah was the school I wanted to attend, but I was a non-qualifier, so went the junior college route."

Leung-Wai had a number of would-be suitors out of high school including Utah, Oregon, and a number of other Pac-10 programs. Due to poor academics, The 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker ended up at Grossmont where he gained a new perspective spiritually and academically.

"I got more serious about things and my future," Explained Leung-Wai. "I concentrated more on spiritual things and got more active in the church. I'm now going to serve a mission, which is something I'm very excited about."

Because Leung-Wai will leave on his mission before enrolling at BYU, he will not count against the number of scholarships available to the class of 2007.


Leung-Wai will be joined at BYU by his Grossmont teammate Magnum Mauga, who committed to BYU just two weeks earlier. Leung-Wai is excited to go to the same school as his good friend Mauga, although they'll likely never play together due to the timing of Leung-Wai's mission.

"I'm real good friends with Magnum," said Leung-Wai. "I was so excited when he committed to BYU. I talked to him a bit about BYU before he left on his trip and when he got back and told me that he committed, I was real excited since BYU offered me right before he left on his trip."

The soonest Leung-Wai could get to Provo was this week, and although he wanted to make his official commitment in person, he considered himself a Cougar from the time he was offered. With his new perspective on life, Leung-Wai thought that BYU had everything that would be best for him.

"It's just a perfect situation for me," said Leung-Wai. "BYU has everything I could want academically, spiritually and athletically. I couldn't be more happy. I'm not the same person I was coming out of high school when I didn't believe that BYU was the right place for me."

The 2005 season was cut short for Leung-Wai's due to injury. He only played in five games, but he showed what Leung-Wai was capable of doing. He won the award for defensive player of the week in three of his five appearances, tallying multiple sacks per game.

"I'm very good sideline-to-sideline," said Leung-Wai. "I have good flow to the ball and I close very fast. I'm quick off the edges and I have legit 4.6 speed. But what I think I'm best at is hitting and tackling guys in the open field. I'm a real good open-field tackler."

"Magnum is just a beast. He's the most intense player I've ever played with. He's just so intense on the field that it's scary. He comes after players so hard and will be a great player for BYU."

Good Company

Leung-Wai mentioned that he did most of the activities with linebackers Cameron Jensen and Markell Staffieri, who hosted him on his trip. Leung-Wai said he was very impressed with how direct the Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall was and liked his focus on things other than football.

"The one thing that stuck in my head that Coach Mendenhall told me was that it's important to remember and be examples not only on the football field, but off the football field as well," said Leung-Wai. "That's what I love about BYU. It's not a place where I can go just to grow as a football player, but in all areas of my life. Being an example on and off the field is something I want and something I'll strive to do.

"Like I said, I couldn't be happier with my decision and where I'm at right now. Having the chance to serve a mission and then play for BYU is a dream come true for me. BYU fans can expect a player that will represent them well on and off the field at all times when I come back and play. I'll be someone they can be proud of. I'll represent the school well."

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