Family Ties

TBS caught up with an up-and-coming prospect out of Douglas High School in Juneau, Alaska. He popped up on BYU's radar last summer when he attended the All-Poly camp and then came down to Provo for a tour of the campus and facilities.

Cougar fans are very aware of the far-reaching recruiting borders of the BYU program. Near or far, Cougar coaches seek out the best talent that'll fit the unique atmosphere of Brigham Young University. Last summer at the BYU high school football camp, a relatively unknown young man who hailed from the frozen tundra of Alaska emerged as one of the top lineman. Big Eathyn Manumaleuna's performance was impressive enough that the Cougar coaching staff extended a scholarship offer. He committed a short time later. This season, another Alaskan product is emerging as a solid two-way lineman, and he happens to be big Eathyn's cousin.

Eathyn Manumaleuna played his senior season at Timpview high school after moving from Alaska. He made a huge splash on the Utah scene, garnering a First Team All-State selection. Eathyn's cousin, Faifo Lavale, hopes to follow in a similar path as his cousin by earning a scholarship and playing Division I college football.

"I'm 6'3", 270 pounds," Lavale said. "I lift 225 pounds 10 times and 315 [squat] ten times. We do time forties here, but it's been a while so I'm not really sure where I am right now. I play defensive end and offensive tackle. On offense, center or tackle, I'm quick off the ball. Our offense relies on the center, because we're a running team, to get to a certain player at a certain time. I'm a patient player. The type of player I am on defense, I'm explosive. I like to be the playmaker, set the tone. I liked to get hyped for my team. Just off the top of my head, last season I had two defensive touchdowns. The most sacks I had in one game would be four. That's just some of the big things I remember. The average stats I would have to get from my coach."

As far as recruiting attention, Faifo is getting attention from programs all across the board. "Oregon and Oregon State are sending me stuff," Faifo said. "Oregon State is probably sending me the most letters. A lot of these Ivy League schools, which I don't really get because they don't really offers scholarships that much for athletics. I get a few invitations from Stanford. Notre Dame is one I got a letter from, they are invitations to camps."

Academics are very important to many prospective scholarship athletes, and finding a school that is strong in athletics and the classroom can be a challenge. "I have a cumulative GPA of 3.4," Faifo said. "If I was to go to college and do very well and have the opportunity to go to the draft I would deny it until I graduate because all it takes is a blown knee or something and you're done, so you need to be able to fall back on the academics so all that education pays off. BYU was the only one because when I look into college book for 2006 and out of all the Pac 10 schools you only need a 2.8 and higher. As for BYU it's a 3.5 and higher. I think that's really good because you get a challenge out of it. So academically it would be BYU. The team GPA is one of the highest in the country, I know that."

BYU is obviously a unique school in regards to the moral conduct and standards they hold all students accountable too. BYU isn't a school for every prospective athlete. However, for many high school kids, LDS or not, BYU is attractive because of the high standards.

"I can live with that, definitely, just because the way I was raised and what I was taught for being a young man, being respectful to not only males but girls as well," Faifo said. "The fact is what I see in high school is a lot of drinking, smoking, and drugs have become a big factor in the community. So when I spoke with a BYU coach at a camp last summer he said that's the policy here. That's perfect for me, I've never done that kind of stuff and I'm cool with that kind of atmosphere. My uncle taught me to be humble, it's kind of a conflict because of the player I am, but it's something I can work towards to keep my head. Another factor is the military lifestyle. It's been an honor and a privilege, it's taught me a lot through out life. He's the one that deserves all the credit for molding me into the person I am."

Faifo had the opportunity to tour the campus and facilities last summer after attending the All-Poly camp. He was very impressed. "It was real nice. I walked in the sports facility and I saw the big picture of Steve Young and the Heisman trophy and I saw a lot of the accomplishments they have there. I went upstairs and everyone was friendly there. The coach's offices were real nice. I went in and talked to all of them. The thing I liked a lot, the thing that I would look for is tradition. BYU has great tradition. I see the things they do aside from sports and it's important. Coming from a small community, tradition is very important."

Faifo spoke about his older cousin Eathyn, their relationship and the one-on-one battle they had a couple of years ago. "There's kind of a big story behind it. When I first moved to Anchorage, Eathyn and I were put on separate teams. He was put on this one team and I was on another for basketball so we were always in competition. The funny thing is I was younger, but my team would always beat his in basketball, but basketball wasn't really the sport. He was always wider than me so he could play football and I didn't. I remember him being on East, which is one of the High Schools in Anchorage. He played for my uncle. It was nice to see him playing for my uncle. I got a chance to see him play for my uncle. He'd talk about how great a player he'd be. It was something I kept my ear out for. My sophomore year I was playing for Juneau, he was playing for East and we had to go up against each other. I was kind of nervous for that game because I knew I'd be facing him. That's the year he got lineman of the year. The story behind it is we won that game, I got voted Defensive Player of the Game, and I had two sacks. It was real nerve racking to see him across from me because he's someone I idolize; from his accomplishments, the way he is, and the player he is. I want to pattern myself to be like him. To accept that Defensive Player Award at the end, I felt like I accomplished something against the best because he was the best in the state, he was Offensive Lineman of the Year. I felt like, wow, maybe my game can be like his. If there was one person, one of my peers I look up to, it would be him."

So, how does Faifo feel about the idea of playing with his cousin? "Oh yeah, you know after I was in that room with him when he committed, I was like, ‘wow.' And I love his family too. We take care of each other. When his sisters come out here we take care of them and when I go out there they take care of me. It's real nice to be with them. He's the type of person I'd like to play with any day."

TBS will check in with Faifo as he prepares for the All-Poly camp and BYU camp this summer, as well as the upcoming season.

Total Blue Sports Top Stories