The goal now is to bring in the types of athletes that can continue to excel in a defense suited specifically for the use of fast, hard-hitting linebackers. One LDS linebacker the Cougar coaches of BYU think fits that mold is 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound tackling machine Steven Fanua out of Milpitas High School in California.
"My son has the goal of going all the way up to the top," said father Sam Fanua. "That's one thing I know he wants to do, is play in the NFL one day."
To get to the top, Steven Fanua must first make a pit stop at a Division I college of his choice, where he will be able to excel both on and off the field. BYU was the first to offer Fanua following a monster sophomore year in which, as one of the nation's leading tacklers, he racked up 220 total tackles. He averaged 16.9 tackles per game.
As a junior, Fanua followed that up with another great year, making 138 total tackles and averaging 13.8 tackles per game. He had 87 solo tackles and 51 assisted tackles to go with six sacks on the season.
"I thought my season went pretty good," said Fanua. "This year I tried to focus more on solo tackles, and becoming more of a student of the game. I also focused more on trying to sharpen up on the fundamentals. I feel I did better with some of those things, but there is always room for improvement."
Steven Fanua and his father were in Provo on September 22 for an unofficial visit to watch the Cougars take on the Fighting Falcons of Air Force.
"It was just great over there, just the way the fans were and how they run things over there at BYU," said Steven. "I got a little look at how they run their system and their program over there. It was impressive. I was down on the field at pre-game and I was able to watch the linebackers run through drills for a bit. After that they took us up to the press box where you can over look the field. It was really nice.
"For the game we sat in the stands with the fans, and after the game we went back into the locker room. I got to meet the players and the linebackers. The locker room is pretty cool. They're a lot like our locker room, where you can get in and get out easy.
"They have a lot of pictures of the old players that used to play there inside. It was like a hall of fame inside the locker room, and that was pretty cool. They players seemed really laid back and [like] really cool guys. I just basically talked to them about the game and stuff."
While on campus, Steven was able to catch a glimpse of Cougar football, see an energetic and supportive fan base, meet some of the coaches and see a few of the facilities.
"The crowed was crazy for that game," Fanua said. "It was really loud in the stands. I met with Coach Doman and I saw Coach Mendenhall, and we talked for a little bit. Coach Mendenhall is a cool coach and he's really turned things around over there at BYU. I think his system over there is very strong. We also met with the d-line coach, Coach Kaufusi. He's a pretty cool guy and you can tell he's going to work you hard. I can tell he knows a lot about the game and he's no joke. I can tell he's a really good coach."
"When I was there I didn't get a chance to check out the Indoor Practice Facility, but I did see the weight room. I get a chance to check out the Hall of Legends and saw all of that. It was nice."
While he was visiting BYU, Steven got a chance to catch up with close family member Fui Vakapuna.
"We were just catching up with each other," said Steven. "[Fui] was also just telling me how BYU is really a good place to be. He told me he was happy to see that there was more family coming up."
Although Steven wasn't able to see very many BYU games this year, he was able to keep tabs on how the Cougars faired this season.
"I caught a little bit here and there," said Steven. "I know they won [their conference] championship and went undefeated. This is a rising program over there at BYU. It sounds good to me. BYU is something that I am interested in and I do want to look more into it. I'm definitely interested."