Bingham Lineman Is Next Hot Prospect

The Bingham High School football team is loaded with talent. Head coach Dave Peck and his staff have produced a MaxPrep All-American, an Offense-Defense All-American Bowl participant, and an ESPN top 25 candidate. Several more Miners, including offensive lineman Derek Tuimauga, could join the ranks of highly decorated and sought Bingham athletes.

When BYU got their first commitment for 2007 from Jordan Pendleton back in February of last year, many Cougar fans quickly wanted to know all about him. This year. BYU faithful are likely to be interested in Bingham High School's Samoan man-child Derek Tuimauga, who has played football for the Miners since he was 13 years old.

"I'm 6-4 and 325 pounds right now," Tuimauga said. "I've grown an inch since last year so that's good. I'm still young. I'm 16 years old so hopefully I'll grow another inch as well. I'll try to drop around 10 pounds before the season to get down to about 310 hopefully.

Having turned 16 just three months ago, Tuimauga will graduate next year as a 17-year-old senior. In a previous article, Coach Peck, said Tuimauga is the strongest kid in the Bingham weight lifting program.

"In the weight room, I don't know what it is but I just like to work out to better myself and my team," said Tuimauga. "I work hard and I train around four days a week with running and lifting. I go to SPARQ after school every day. On my max I got 505 for my squat, 375 for bench and 250 for clean.

For a 16-year-old kid, Tuimauga's weight room performance is quite remarkable, but his on-field performance is what caught the attention of college recruiters. Oregon pulled the trigger and extended an early offer.

"It just happened during last season," Tuimauga said. "I was shocked to see Oregon offer me first, but I was happy about it because I've been working hard for that to happen. I was supposed to go down and check out Oregon but my football guide had to go to a funeral instead. Oregon is the only one to have offered me so far."

Tuimmauga's number of offers may soon double.

"Coach Peck told me that BYU is looking really heavy into possibly offering me a scholarship," said Tuimauga. "They will probably offer me sometime soon hopefully. I'm hoping that they will offer me soon because it would be good to know that I can go play football for BYU. BYU is one of my top schools and I've always wanted to go and play there.

Tuimauga, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has followed BYU for some time. Tuimauga feels that the advantages offered by BYU make it a top choice.

"I like BYU because of the area," said Tuimauga. "It's close to home and they're a church school. A lot of kids from Bingham are going up to BYU and it would be cool to stay with all my teammates and play ball in college. I also like the program and the coaching staff there.

"I have a lot of respect for that coaching staff. Bronco Mendenhall brought in a whole new attitude to that coaching staff. He flipped it and changed it from being just another program to being one of the elite programs in the nation, and the thing is he did it in just two years."

Coach Mendenhall seems to be a master at making a positive first impression. Tuimauga still remembers the brief conversation he had with BYU's head coach some time prior to the Miner's 2006 season.

"I talked to him before the start of the season," Tuimauga said. "I just think he's one of those guys that has a passion for the game. I think he's a great guy and is one of those coaches that makes players just want to play for him."

If BYU offers Tuimauga, the Cougars will be in the front running for his services.

"It would be one of my top schools," said Tuimauga of BYU. "Obviously Oregon is my top school right now because they've offered, but it would be one or two with BYU as one of my top schools."

Tuimauga and another BYU prospect – Bingham tight end Austin Holt – have become good friends over the years since the two were the younger starters on the team. They have talked about playing together at the next level.

"Me and Holt have talked a lot about how it would be a cool thing to play together and go to the same college," Tuimauga said. "We're really tight with each other. We've played together for a long time and we've built up that kind of a relationship."

According to Tuimauga and Coach Peck, BYU is also taking a close look Bingham High School's defensive back Iona Prichard and running back Sam Langi. If both Holt and Tuimauga commit to the Cougars, BYU could end up being a satellite campus for Bingham.

"It could end up like that," chuckled Tuimauga. "That's one reason why I also like BYU because some of my teammates are going there."

So has Holt expressed an interest in joining fellow teammates Star Lotulelei and Jordan Pendleton to BYU?

"I think he's still looking around," said Tuimauga. "I don't know if he's going to commit anytime soon but BYU is one of his top schools."

Speaking of fellow Bingham Miners, BYU defensive end commit Star Lotulelei teased his fellow teammate in the spirit of fun following BYU's roasting of the Ducks in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"Me and Star [Lotulelei] were going back and forth at each other," laughed Tuimauga. "It was pretty funny. He text messaged me when BYU started killing them about how he was offered by the Cougars like 50 times. I just laughed about it. It was pretty funny."

So was Tuimauga disappointed in the outcome of the Las Vegas Bowl game?

"Oh no, I was rooting for both teams," said Tuimauga. "I just wanted to see how both teams would do, and I talked to Coach Bellotti after the game. I talked to him about Oregon losing and he said that he didn't think that they played their best, but I think Oregon will be good this year as well as BYU."

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