BYU Gets Top Commit

BYU hosted a major recruiting weekend with twenty recruits in town to meet Cougar coaches and players, check out the campus and the athletic facilities, watch BYU's men's volleyball team sweep defending national champions UCLA Bruins in six straight games, and go snowmobiling among other things. The weekend was a success with another top football recruit committing to Bronco Mendenhall.

Most of BYU's football commits were on campus together over the weekend. In attendance representing California was running back J.J. DiLuigi, cornerback Brannon Brooks, Tyler Beck and Chino Hill's Steven Thomas. Safety Gary Nagy and athlete Kaneakua Friel were there from Hawaii.

The other out of state prospects were David Angilau from Niwot High School, quarterback Jason Munns, Levi Mack, Manaaki Vaitai, and Marcus Mathews.

Recruits from the state of Utah were there such as Braden Brown, Scotty Ebert, Eathyn Manumaleuna along with Bingham High School's Star Lotulelei and Jordan Pendleton were there along with recently returned missionary Matt Putnam.

Two uncommitted prospects were on campus for the weekend. One was 6-foot-6 Upland High School tight end Devin Mahina, and Grant Union High School defensive tackle Christian Tupou.

After the recruits arrived, head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff held a diner and a meeting with the incoming recruits. It was after this meeting that Coach Mendenhall received word from his newest Cougar commit.

"Yeah I committed," said southern California star Devin Mahina. "It was on Saturday after all the meetings and stuff. Coach Mendenhall wanted to talk to me and so I went up into his office to talk to him, and I just told him that I wanted to commit. I was going to tell him before the meeting that I wanted to be a Cougar and that I want to commit before we went to the hotel and to BYU for diner.

"Anyhow, I told him after the meeting up in his office that I love it here and this is the best place for me. I told him this was the place for me. He was excited about that because before on junior day when I went up into his office to talk to him, I didn't commit at that time, so he kind of felt like he failed. Later he actually opened up some things for my parents because they were just straight up thinking UCLA because there was the close to home issue. My parents were talking to him and he really helped them to open their eyes."

Mahina had nothing but glowing comments about his new head coach.

"Coach Mendenhall is a great coach," Mahina said. "He's very honest and straight up and that's what I like about him. I don't like it when people beat around the bush. I like it when people are straight forward with me and tell it like it is and that's what he always did. He told me what I need to do and what I need to accomplish, and that's what I liked about him. He's a great coach.

"He helped my parents to understand the overall perspective of being an LDS kid and having the physical, the spiritual, and being on a championship team all at the same time. There is only one place to have all of this and that's BYU. At BYU, you have your physical needs and your spiritual needs along with everything else. I'm excited and this is the place for me. It's really great too because blue is my favorite color. I'm going to have a blast being at BYU."

Mahina flew in on Friday and met up with assistant coach Steve Kaufusi, David Angilau and Christian Tupou for lunch in Salt Lake City.

"We flew in [on Friday] and met with Steve [Kaufusi]," said Mahina. "I was with David and Christian Tupou. We went to a Tongan restaurant called Moti's for lunch in Salt Lake. I guess Steve's grandma or grandpa owns it. It's kind of like L&L's."

Later, Mahina met up with his parents– who also came into town to take part in their son's BYU recruiting experience – and his girlfriend, who is currently a BYU student.

"We went to the volleyball game and it was a lot of fun. It was so packed in there we couldn't even find a seat. We were standing on the side, and there were a lot of kids there. Those Brazilian and Puerto Rican kids can jump man. They can fly! My parents had a blast. My mom loves volleyball and she was really into it. It was a blast."

While on his trip, current BYU tight end Vic So'oto was Mahina's host.

"Man, Vic [So'oto] is tight," said Mahina. "Me and Vic were just chilling, and we have so many things in common. Everything we talked about was the same. We just kicked it and had fun, and we checked out his new apartment and hung out with Terrence [Hooks] too. Those guys are really cool. Me and Vic talked about how were both from California, and we just have a lot in common. Later on we went to over to Manase Tonga's house and stuff. I talked to Vic about all that stuff. He told me if you don't get 50 catches in this offense, then you're not a very good tight end. He was telling me that this offense is known for their tight ends."

During the day on Saturday, Mahina met up with a few of the other recruits for a day of fun in the snow on the snowmobiles.

"It was a lot of fun," said Mahina of the winter motor sport. "Me, Tyler Beck, with whom I became really good friends with over our recruiting trip, Steven Thomas, J.J. DiLuigi, Kaneakua Friel and Gary Nagy all went out together. It was funny because Steven Thomas hit a tree; it was pretty funny. He went right into it and he broke one of the skis, it was funny. Everybody fell off but nobody got hurt but J.J. was the first one to fall off. He was going up this bank it was right out of the parking lot and he was going up it and it tipped over and he fell. We weren't even on them for 10 minutes and he fell but it was a blast."

Earlier in the recruiting season, Mahina favored the Bruins of UCLA, but after an in-home visit by a Bruin recruiter, Mahina was turned off at the prospect of going to UCLA.

"The [UCLA] recruiter came down to my house, and I didn't really like how he handled the situation," said Mahina. "After the visit, it just made me feel like I didn't want to go there. He just made me feel really uncomfortable, and he told me that if I wasn't going to commit right then that they were going to take away my scholarship if I don't verbally commit. I was like, ‘Man, if you can't wait for me then I can't wait for you.' I just didn't feel comfortable with how they did things."

After the fallout with UCLA, the University of Oregon jumped into the picture. However, the affair was short lived.

"After that Oregon was my third favorite team," Mahina said. "I liked Oregon but after that [Las Vegas] bowl game I was like, ‘Man, I don't know, they're kind of like falling off.' I just saw how BYU played against Oregon, and that really opened my eyes. I saw how Harline played, and I thought, ‘Man, that's me right there. I see me doing that.' I was like, ‘Man BYU is the place for me.' After that, Oregon wasn't really much to me."

Mahina tripped up to Oregon, and the Duck coaching staff did their best to imitate a BYU atmosphere.

"When I did go up there they did bring out the bishop and the institute director and that," said Mahina. "Even after all that, I just felt I couldn't get all my spiritual needs. I don't know, it just didn't click. At BYU everything just clicked, and I really felt comfortable there. Everything is started with a prayer, and I just really like that."

Even though he was covering all of his bases, Mahina knew in his heart BYU was the place for him. The confirmation of his feelings came after an in-home visit from BYU wide receiver coach Patrick Higgins.

"I think it was probably when Coach Higgins came over for my home to visit," said Mahina. "He came over, and we were talking, and I just felt like BYU was the right place for me. I already kind of knew in my mind where I wanted to go and where I felt was the best place for me. He just kind of helped put things into perspective for me.

"My parents are happy for me. I guess you could say they were just being a little selfish just because they want to come to my games and BYU is kind of far away, but they realize that there is no better place than BYU. So I'm now blue and white and I'm a Cougar and they're happy about that."

Mahina wanted to let Cougar fans all around the country know how excited he is to continue BYU's great tight end tradition.

"I just want to let all the BYU fans know that Devin Mahina has committed to be a Cougar and that I'll strive to do what ever is needed to win at BYU. I just want everyone to know that I'm proud to be a Cougar at BYU, and will try to be the next top tight end when I'm there. I'm really excited to be a Cougar."

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