LB/RB Commits To BYU

The coaching staff of the LDS Church-sponsored school of Brigham Young University continues to harvest the top LDS athletes from across the country. Coach Mendenhall and his staff just recently received another commitment.

Coach Mendenhall and his Cougar staff are not just expecting their football players to "raise the bar" out on the field, but are demonstrating their own words through their actions out in the recruiting field. On Thursday, BYU coaches received an offensive line commitment from 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound Jesse Taufi.

Taufi was told by USC coaches not to commit to BYU and that he would have a Trojan offer soon. However, he decided that BYU was the place for him and committed to the Cougar coaching staff last Thursday night.

On Saturday, BYU coaches received yet another commitment, this one coming from Timpview outside linebacker and running back Michael Alisa, who played on the Kahuku High School J.V. football team with both Shiloah and Manti Te'o.

"I gave a verbal commitment to BYU," said Alisa. "Coach Mendenhall offered me and I told him that I want to commit to BYU and play for them.

"It was a dream come true. I really couldn't believe it. I went in there kind of thinking that something might happen, but I kept thinking that there was no way anything was going to happen. Then when he said that he wanted me to come to BYU, I just couldn't believe it. It really was a dream come true and my family is really happy too. I really love the school, and comparing BYU to other schools, it's just different. I spoke to my parents about it and we both agreed that BYU is the best place for me to attend college and play football."

So why did he commit early to BYU?

"I was actually on a trip to another school when I really started thinking about BYU," said Alisa. "The coaches said that wherever you commit to is probably where you'll find your future wives, and after school you'll probably end up living around there and finding a career there in that area.

"I really like Provo, and after meeting with other coaches from other schools and then meeting with BYU coaches, I really respect the BYU coaches. They all seem to be really good family men and great examples. These are they type of men that I want to follow."

Alisa also has thought about playing football again with some of his former and current teammates.

"I love Houston [Reynolds] and we all looked up to him last year," Alisa said. "He was the rock of our state championship team last year. He was the flag bearer. I was thinking about how I'm going to have the chance to play with him, Eathyn Manumaleuna, Famika [Anae] and possibly with Kevin Bills and Craig Bills. I know Kevin or Craig haven't committed yet. All of these guys I played with and I'm looking forward to playing with them."

"I'm really stoked for [Alisa]," said Reynolds. "I always thought BYU was the best place for me, but knowing the type of kid he is, I think he made the right choice to commit to BYU. He's the type of kid that I would absolutely love to serve a mission with, I would absolutely love to play football [with], love to have as a classroom buddy and just hang out him because he's really good guy. He just wants to do good things for all the right reasons.

"It would be really hard to not follow him when you see someone like that who is just so passionate about doing everything for all the right reasons. If there was ever a kid BYU wanted to offer early, it would be him because of the type of kid he is and because he's going to be a stud on the football field. I think he picked BYU first because of football and then second because of everything else BYU has to offer outside of football."

Prior to suiting up as a Thunderbird, Alisa transferred to Utah from Kahuku High School for personal reasons.

"Kahuku High School has a great football program," said Alisa. "There is a lot of scouting that goes on over there. I didn't come over here to Utah to just play football, because I could have gotten scouted over there just as easily. The reason why I left was mostly to get a better education and a lot of my siblings are over here going to school…or are married. I wanted to be around more of my family because it was just me and my parents back in Hawaii. All of my siblings are over here in Utah and I'm the youngest in the family.

"Schooling back in Hawaii definitely isn't top of the line. I knew that I could be over here with most of my family and get a better education, so it seemed the right thing to do. Now that I'm here I'm really glad that I came."

Alisa speculated about how he would have contributed at Kahuku if he hadn't left his home in Oahu, Hawaii.

"I would have started at the linebacker's position at Kahuku," Alisa said. "I started at safety when I played for Kahuku's J.V. team [sophomore year] and they wanted to move me to raiderback. Raiderback is kind of like BYU's cougarback, but I chose to come to Utah instead.

"I played with both Shiloah and Manti [Te'o] at Kahuku. They're really good guys and I like them. I played with them all through Pop Warner and a little bit at Kahuku. We all played on the Kahuku J.V. team together. I left before I could play on the Varsity team with Shiloah."

As a junior, Alisa started for the Timpview High School Thunderbird defense, and also received spot duty behind 4-A MVP Jackson Owen (1,740 yards and 18 touchdowns) as a running back.

"I started out as a safety coming in from Hawaii," Alisa said. "I did pretty good as a safety but then they changed me to linebacker and found that playing linebacker was my spot. I just did really well at linebacker and just knew how to play the position.

"Next year I'm going to be playing running back for Timpview. BYU is recruiting me for the outside linebacker's position, but I told Coach Mendenhall that I'm probably going to be playing a lot of running back next. He said that was alright because he would like to see me play at the running back position."

Having played football in Hawaii most of his life, Alisa has seen the subtle differences between the athletes and offensive schemes of both states.

"When I first came over here I thought it was going to be easy," Alisa said. "I didn't think Utah football had anything on Hawaii football, but to tell you the truth the speed of the game seems to be faster [in Utah]. The passing game seems to be much more refined than Hawaii football. The o-linemen technique seems to be more refined. Hawaii football is more about power and it has that as an advantage, but you have to work on technique. Utah football has a totally different style of play and it took me a while to adapt."

Along with being the starting outside linebacker, there is a good chance that Alisa will also receive the starting running back position next year on a team that has a great chance of repeating as 4-A state champions.

"This next year he'll play running back," said Reynolds. "I personally think his style of play is suited for running back because he's so smooth and runs so fluid. Jackson Owen [former Timpview running back] was more of a power runner, but Mike is more fluid, quick, agile and elusive."

"The coaches told me that it's between me and another kid," Alisa said. "They also told me they just might want me to stay on defense. If they need me to play running back then I'll play running back. I asked Coach Mendenhall about that and he said it didn't really matter. They're recruiting me as an outside linebacker, but he said he wants to see me at running back also. He said he was looking forward to seeing me play running back actually, but they're recruiting me as an outside linebacker."

As a junior at the high school level, Alisa currently possesses the size of a D-I running back and outside linebacker.

"Right now I'm 6'1", 220 pounds," said Alisa. "I still have one more year left of high school to play and develop though. There are a couple of other schools looking at me right now. Washington State is looking at me, as well as UNLV. The [University of Utah and University of Hawaii] showed a little bit of interest in me a while ago, but nothing now."

Along with those schools Alisa mentioned, he is also receiving early interest from Cal, Oklahoma and Boise State for various positions. Reynolds feels that because of Alisa's athletic abilities, he will be successful at either the running back or outside linebacker's position.

"If you look at his abilities on the other side of the ball, because he is a quick and fluid runner, he really lit some guys up last year as a defensive player," said Reynolds. "He's just not afraid to hit and I don't know how much of that comes from how tough it is playing in Hawaii or from him being Poly. He had some sweet hits last year.

"He doesn't say much but when it's needed he'll say what needs to be said. He does most of his talking on the field and leads by example. He's just a really good kid. There are some people that struggle and try and do things for all the wrong reasons, but he's not that type of a kid. He does things for all the right reasons, and on top of that he's a very intense kid. He's very critical and yet very humble, even to the point to where I don't think he recognizes some of his own talents. He oftentimes discredits himself by saying he got lucky or by giving credit to his teammates. He's a very good football player I think he'll be a stud at BYU."

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