Filiaga Changes his Mind

Classes started Monday at BYU, and Utah's iron man Isley Filiaga was on BYU campus talking to Cougar coaches, but the conversation was not what the staff or BYU fans were hoping for. Contrary to recent statements by Filiaga that he will be a Cougar, the big defensive tackle will not be donning BYU blue next season. Filiaga explained to TotalBlueSports.com what led to his recent change of heart.

Yesterday Isley Filiaga was registered at BYU with 14.5 credits. It was a heavy load, but Filiaga struggled academically in the one semester he attended BYU prior to leaving for his mission in California and needed to make up ground with his grades in order to play. The situation was so dire that his post-mission academic eligibility was in serious doubt, leading his father Tui Filiaga to meet often with academic coach Jim Hamblin to square away a plan to help Isley get himself back on track for spring ball.

"I went into Coach Hamblin's office earlier today and he asked me if I went to class today," said Filiaga. "I told him no and everyone just kind of looked at me. Vic So'oto and Russell Tialavea were in his office when I told him that I was going to go up to the University of Utah.

"I'm going to be sitting out this year any ways to work on my academics, so either way I still have to face the fact that I have to work hard and make up the class I had before my mission. Coach Hamblin said he hoped he didn't scare me away by putting 14.5 credits on my schedule. This was just something I had to do. People will probably think that I just got up and made a decision to not go to BYU but it was much more than that."

On Sunday night during a family home evening, Filiaga and his family came to a very difficult decision after much family prayer and fasting, a few trips to the temple and after many tears when things became clearer.

"I just think it's going to be a positive for me to go to Utah," Filiaga said. "It wasn't like I just got home from my mission and then one day woke up and decided to go to the University of Utah. I was brought up in the Church and the one thing that I was taught to do was put the Lord first and things are going to work out. This is what I've learned both at home and while I was on my mission. It doesn't matter where I want to go, it's where the Lord wants me to be and if I follow that then everything will fall into place. If Utah is where the Lord wants me to be then things are going to work out for me there.

"If the Lord wants me at Utah and I come to BYU then things aren't going to work out for me. I may make a lot of fans happy that I went back to BYU, but what about me and what about my future? Where am I going to be in five years? Am I going to go to BYU and than have to find a job in five years or can I fulfill the dreams that I've always had ever since I was a little kid to play in the NFL. I don't know everything, but I do know that if I go where the Lord wants me to be that I'll be able to accomplish those things. Now that I'm home and now that I've consulted about this with Him, He's going to bless me. I feel the Lord has helped me and told me what I need to do for what ever reason it may be. I just feel at Utah I'll have a better chance of fulfilling those dreams and have to do what I believe the Lord wants me to do."

Two days ago on Sunday evening, both Tui and Isley Filiaga told TotalBlueSports.com that he was indeed registered at BYU and would be coming back to play football there. At that time, the family had made their final decision, however they wanted to tell BYU coaches about their decision before confirming the choice to the media

"It was hard for me because we just barely talked about it right before you called me," said a somber Filiaga with a quiver in his voice. "We just barely got done having family home evening and you called. We were talked about BYU and I wanted to tell you but I just wanted to talk to the coaches first. It would have looked bad on me if I went up to Utah without saying anything to the coaches first.

"I didn't want to be a punk to the coaches because BYU gave me the chance to go on with my education and football, so if I didn't go and talk to the coaches first and let them hear about things through everybody else what does that say about me? I don't want the coaches to think, ‘Well this is his decision but he didn't have any class.' I'm just trying to show them the respect they deserve because they're the ones that gave me the opportunity, and I didn't feel it was right for them to hear about something like this that is very hard for me through someone else.

"I didn't do a good job my first semester and I wasn't really concentrated on getting down and mature enough to get down to work, but you know they still gave me that opportunity and I was still on scholarship. I just wanted to let the coaches know first because they deserve to know first before anyone else. I didn't want to leave on bad terms because I have little brothers coming up and other relatives that might want to go play football at BYU. I wanted to show my respect to the coaches and not burn any bridges or mess anything up for them. It was honestly one of the hardest decisions in my life."

Throughout his mission, Filiaga heard many compliments and praises from BYU fans that followed his difficult recruiting process and how he beat the odds and qualified for a scholarship at BYU. He feels that one reason why he was able to accomplish the feat was out of direct support from BYU fans while struggling in high school.

"To tell you the truth, I'm grateful for all the BYU fans," Filiaga said. "When I was on my mission, people came up to me, and they knew who I was. They told me that I did a good job in qualifying and working hard and that I deserve every bit of it. I really do appreciate the support that everyone has given me because they were one of the reasons why I was working so hard was to not let them down.

"I'm very grateful for the BYU fans and they've always been there for all the hard times that BYU was going through. I remember how supportive and proud of me BYU fans were when they found out I qualified. I just hope that now that I'm going to play at a school they're not so fond of, that they will remember who I am in a good way.

"I feel bad for a lot of the people that have seen me through all of this. I know that this will be disappointing to them but the thing is they just might not know everything that is going on. This honestly wasn't the easiest decisions for me to make. This was one of the hardest decisions I had to make in life because it's going to affect my future a lot."

Isley Filiaga does not expect those BYU fans who have followed his career and mission experiences to become Utah fans. He just hopes that Cougar faithful will respect him as a individual who is trying to do what he feels is right.

"No, you don't have to be a Utah fan," said Filiaga. "You can just be an Isley Filiaga fan. That is what I hope because I don't expect BYU fans to like a school that is not very liked. I just hope they remember me for what I overcame and accomplished and how I served the Lord honorably. I hope they will remember me for who I am and the kind of person that I am and not for what school I play for. I just want them to know that I included the Lord in this decision, and it's a hard one but I have to follow what he feels is right for me. Now I'm trying to do the right thing. That is how I want them to think of me."


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