Another Recruit Pulls The Trigger

Coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff are blazing a trail in the recruiting world. On Tuesday, BYU pulled off a big one when they secured a verbal commitment from one of the top players on their board. This player decided to throw his hat in the ring with those already in the 2008 class.

"I just called Coach Mendenhall today after I got a message that he wanted to speak to me," said Shiloah Te'o. "He told me that he was just at [BYU's] last camp and he just wanted to know how I was feeling about BYU, and whether or not I'm strongly considering being a part of their football program. We were just talking stories for a while and then I just told him I'm ready to commit.

"I've been really thinking about it lately. I've been thinking a lot about BYU. I was planning on committing soon anyways, but as we were talking I just decided that now is the right time. I love talking to Coach Mendenhall. He was really excited about the news.

"Whenever I talk to Coach Mendenhall, I just respect him so much. I really like him, I respect him as a man and as a coach. He's honest, he's really straight-up with you, and he has really strong character. It's just different from other coaches and programs. I like that he never begged me or pushed me to commit, he just said that he wants me to commit because he really thinks I can help the program. He said that if I do decide to commit then it's all on me; he's not going to beg me to come there if I don't want to be there. I really respected that. He's not trying to force us to do something we don't want to do like a lot of other coaches do. Some will do just about anything to get you to be a part of their program. He told me straight up in our one-one-one meeting where he wants me to play."

Te'o talked about the moment he knew he wanted to be a Cougar.

"In our one-on-one meeting I learned that it's not all about football," said Te'o. "I know that [Bronco] is going to help me out later on in life. He really cares about me and he's going to be there for me no matter what happens. Coach Mendenhall really earned my respect for that. I really based my decision off of that one-on-one meeting. I knew before we got to the facilities. I knew that coach was a great guy and that he's bringing the program up. It's on the rise, and I'd love to play for him.

"When BYU first offered me I was thinking that it wasn't a big deal. I was waiting for the big schools. My uncle, Ephraim, asked me how many offers I had. I told him, ‘Four.' I told him that hopefully I could get an offer from [USC] next week; that's what I was waiting for. He told me, ‘Shiloah, don't worry about SC, you've got four schools right here that want you right now, that offered you as a junior. Choose from these four schools. They offered you first and they really want you.' When he told me that I really respected it. I was thinking, ‘Yeah, these schools really want me, I should just choose from them.'

"I was one of those LDS athletes that overlooked BYU. Whenever I thought about BYU, I thought, ‘I'm not going to an LDS school. They've got too many rules. I want to go to college and have fun.' One thing my Dad always taught me was to always have an open heart and mind. When I went to that fireside I was thinking, ‘I don't really want to be here.' We got there and I was pretty bored to be honest. My mom and dad were excited; they really wanted me there to check it out. I ended up really enjoying it. I just went in there with an open heart and open mind. If it wasn't for that fireside I wouldn't have made that decision, at least not this early. I'm just really excited. I wish I was there [at BYU] right now."

Shiloah has a long time until he suits up in Cougar blue, and much will happen between now and when he arrives in Provo, Utah. Mr. Te'o has a checklist of goals that he wants to achieve before college life begins.

"Right now I'm just focused on my senior season," said Te'o. "I want to go out strong. We want to bring it back home one last time. Another goal I have is to stay in shape so that I'm ready for college football. Coach Mendenhall said I have a chance to compete. I'll be pretty familiar with the system and some of the blitz packages because [Kahuku High School] got [the 3-4 defense] specifically from BYU. Another goal I have is to show to them what I've got. Only Robert Anae and Steve Kaufusi have really seen me. I'm really excited to show Coach Mendenhall what kind of player I am. He told me he's excited to be my coach and that made me excited to show him that I can get it done and that I can help this program out. I'm preparing for it."

A big discussion amongst Cougar fans is whether or not a possible commitment from Shiloah would have an impact on his fellow teammate Paipai Falemalu and cousin Manti Te'o. Now that Shiloah has pulled the trigger, how does he see his decision impacting these two young men?

"I'm not sure how it'll effect Paipai," said Te'o. "He's pretty focused and he knows what he wants. He really likes BYU. Hopefully he'll commit too. He might involve his family in this decision. They don't want him to commit early. When we were up in Utah he said that he felt that he really wanted to commit. Today he told me he's going to let it play out. He said that if they're out of scholarships then it's his loss.

"As far as Manti goes, I think my decision will impact him greatly. He called me the other day and asked me if USC offered me at their camp. I told him that their DB coach really liked me, but I wasn't feeling it like I was all the years before. This was my fourth year going to the USC camp. I always loved the atmosphere and the swearing. But, with the change of heart I've experienced, I didn't like that this year. I was thinking, ‘I don't like all this swearing and yelling right now.' It just didn't amuse me. It didn't amaze me like it did before. I didn't have a bad experience; I worked hard and they put me in the first group. I just didn't care for their scholarship offer anymore. But, Manti was telling me, ‘BYU looks good right now.' You know, I'm going to be recruiting him to BYU. He'll make his own decision wherever he feels most comfortable. I'll just let you know, he was very impressed with the facilities [and] Coach Mendenhall. The whole Te'o family was really impressed. Manti's family and Levi's family too."

So what message does Shiloah have for Cougar nation? "I just want to let them know that I'm excited to be a part of the Cougar tradition and I'm happy to represent my religion," Te'o said. "I can't wait to get started and good luck this season!"

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