"It was so much fun," added Eathyn Manumaleuna. "The competition here in Utah was a lot better and helped me a lot. Playing with Famika and Houston [Reynolds] was just a great experience and I'm glad I was able to play here for my senior year."
Way Up North
For Manumaleuna, Alaska was and still is home. It is where he grew up and where got his start in football. He even earned state player of the year honors as a junior. The Land of the Midnight Sun is also the best place in the country for Manumaleuna to enjoy his favorite pastime.
"I love to fish," said Manumaleuna. "I fish all the time up there. It's what I love to do."
Although the fishing was great up in Alaska, the football competition was not. In order to play against better competition in preparation for the next level, Manumaleuna left his home to come down and stay with his cousin Famika.
Provo and the Anae home quickly became another home for Manumaleuna.
"From day one I just felt so comfortable here," said Manumaleuna. "They just took me in and it helped a lot. I've been homesick a bit for sure, but it hasn't been that bad at all."
"Eathyn and I are real tight," said Anae. "Living with him this past season and playing with him on the line has been a great experience. We're like brothers, we do everything together."
Football-wise, Manumaleuna found better competition in Utah and raised his level of play accordingly. Playing on both the offensive and defensive lines, Manumaleuna earned himself first team all-state honors by dominating both fronts.
"I played both offensive and defensive line, but played mostly on defense toward the end of the year," said Manumaleuna. "I just concentrated on beating my man and I did that by beating him to the spot and going from there. I think I did pretty well."
Manumaleuna will play a year and then leave for a mission. Coaches have indicated to him that they would like to see him play on the defensive side of the ball before his mission and then go from there when he gets back.
"I trust the coaches and feel they'll do what is best for me," said Manumaleuna.
A Different Course of Action
Famika Anae has made his own unique journey to playing offensive line for Timpview and in turn earning a scholarship from BYU. Although he is the son of one of the best offensive linemen in BYU history, Anae's future on the offensive line was not made clear until a little less than a year ago.
"I've just been hurt," explained Anae. "I had two ACL injuries I've had to recover from and this year was the first year I played offensive line. I had to learn fast, but I feel I did alright."
Anae, who now measures at 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, was playing inside receiver for his team down in Texas during his sophomore year when he was just 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds. Injuries and the Anae family genes contributed to Anae getting bigger and fitting into the offensive line position he will play in college.
"I was just hurt and couldn't do much of anything except lift weights and work on my upper body," said Anae. "I just pretty much lived in the weight room getting my weight up and my strength to where I could play offensive line."
Anae recently topped out at 325 in his bench press, which is close to what his cousin can do.
Anae was thrust into the mix this past season and did remarkably well for a brand new position.
"I had some of the best teachers around me to help me," said Anae. "I have my dad, obviously, but I also had Lance Reynolds Jr. who helped me a ton along with Eddie Keele who joined the staff later in the season as a student teacher. I've had some of the best guys helping me and coaching me, and it's paid off."
Having played receiver before switching to tackle, Anae feels that he has developed quick and agile feet that help him a lot at the tackle position. He has been developing a lot this past season and has been under the close eye of Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
"Coach Mendenhall told me before the year that he needed to see me play," said Anae. "I hadn't really had the chance to prove that I was worthy of a scholarship because of injury, but he told me that they'd have an offer for me if I showed what I could do on the field. So this past season I feel I played well and showed that I can be a good player for them at the next level."
Anae will leave for his mission right after graduating from Timpview. He hopes to enter the MTC around the same time as fellow BYU commit Houston Reynolds. All three of the imposing Thunderbird linemen formed a bond both on and off the field that they hope will continue to the next level at BYU.
"We're all very good friends," said Manumaleuna. "It's been so fun playing with them in high school and playing with them again in college is something we're all looking forward to."
"It's going to be great," concluded Anae about the prospect of playing with his cousin and close friend at BYU. "We got really good playing together in high school, and we're going to get even better in college."