Better Late than Never

Masi Tuitama, from Pacifica High School in Southern California, recently informed Cougar coaches that he'll accept the scholarship offer proffered him. Although he will be graduating from high school this coming week, Tuitama won't be joining BYU until January because he was a late qualifier. However, come spring ball, Tuitama will be competing hard for a spot on the team.

"I was a late qualifier," said Masi Tuitama. "BYU started looking at me early during my final year, but knew that I wasn't qualified. Coach Lamb, who recruited me, told me to get my grades up and that something might open up, so I did. I called the coaches, told them I got a 3.3 my final semester, and they offered."

Tuitama didn't know a whole lot about BYU growing up, but became familiar with them while Coach Lamb made the initial contacts with him last season.

"I'd see BYU on TV and all that, but I didn't know that much about them," said Tuitama. "I'm Mormon and I know BYU is a Mormon school, which I like."

Upon qualifying, Tuitama gave BYU a much harder look, and traveled to the school with his family to meet with the coaches and the players. On the heels of the visit, Tuitama all but determined that BYU was the place for him.

"It's just really chill there and all with all the Samoans and Mormons. I really liked it a lot," said Tuitama, who is half-Samoan himself. "I saw the team workout and met guys like Sete [Aulai] and Vic [So'oto], and they're just cool Samoan guys like me. I feel like I fit right in."

Tuitama was also impressed with the facilities and with the Cougar coaching staff.

"All the coaches are straight up and honest," said Tuitama. "I like that they didn't forget about me during the recruiting process. They stuck with me and it's going to be an honor to play for BYU and to attend their school."

But Tuitama had other options, as Hawaii held a scholarship for him as well. Tuitama went home from his unofficial visit to BYU having to decide between the two schools, and chose BYU in the end.

"BYU is just better than Hawaii," said Tuitama. "The facilities, the program, the school, the atmosphere, it's just better at BYU. They have it all there, which made my decision."

Tuitama will be reporting to BYU as an outside linebacker who currently measures in at 6 feet 2 inches and 205 pounds. During high school, he played both ways, rotating in at running back while playing every rep for the six-year-old Pacifica High School. Tuitama left the school as its all-time leading rusher, having gained 879 yards his senior season.

"I could have rushed for well over 1000 yards," said Tuitama. "But I played every down on defense and had to rotate running the ball with another guy. Defense is where I'm best though, and where I'll play at BYU."

Tuitama was moved around a bit during his senior year, playing a lot of middle linebacker as well as coming off the edge where he feels he's best.

"I come strong and fast," said Tuitama. "I get a lot of sacks. They only had me down for six last year, but I know I had more than that. I had three in one game. My speed is my strength. I feel I can run down anyone."

Since Tuitama won't be enrolling at BYU until January, he has several options open to him before he enrolls. These options include staying at home to work out as hard a possible to prepare himself, or to do the same thing in Provo while attending a junior college.

"I might go to school there for just a semester, so I don't use up any eligibility," said Tuitama. "Going up there, I'd get more used to the climate and would have a heads-up in school, transferring to BYU after already completing a semester. We'll see how it goes."

Regardless, Tuitama aims to be as ready as possible to compete to play right away.

"I want to make an impact right away," said Tuitama. "I want to get in there and show them that I can help them. Having spring and then fall camp will help me for sure. I'm just really excited to get going. I know BYU is the right place for me."

Tuitama is LDS, but does not have mission plans at this time, as he plans to play four straight years. For Tuitama, playing at a place like BYU is everything he could hope for.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to get down there and to get going," said Tuitama. "BYU is such a great place with some great people. The program is great, [and] the school is great. I just think it's the perfect place for me. I'm very thankful to have the opportunity and will work as hard as possible when I get there."

Total Blue Sports Top Stories