BYU Goes From Medium To High

There were many high profile prospects in attendance for BYU's Junior Day last Saturday. Many know of John Martinez out of Cottonwood High school and Xavier Suafilo from Timpview. For a different athlete in attendance that many will soon know much about, BYU went from medium to high in his interest column.

For Highland High School defensive lineman star Latu Heimuli, his experience at BYU's Junior Day helped raised his interest in the program simply because he feels he was truly educated as to why BYU was different than any other college.

"I thought it helped out more with my perspectives on going there," said Heimuli. "I think it also helped out a lot with other kids who might not have been thinking about going there. I think it might have strengthened their testimony about going there. I think it would affect them more if they're Mormon. I think it's a great place for Mormon kids."

The inspiration that Coach Mendenhall was able to project, whether intended or not, inspired Heimuli to want to be a better person and to possibly be a part of a program that exemplifies such values.

"I think growing up a fan and watching them and then being there yesterday really helped out," said Heimuli.

For Heimuli - and this has become a recurring theme from those that have given their perspective on the day - one specific highlight of Junior Day came during the film room gathering where Coach Mendenhall spoke.

"One thing that I really liked is when he said that he wasn't there to recruit us," Heimuli said. "He said he was there to educate us instead of recruit us. That really was a shock to me and I wasn't really expecting that.

"I also liked when he talked about how football doesn't come first. He talked about how getting an education and developing spiritually comes first over football. I remember a little bit about how he talked about the conference championships and all the bowl games if we were interested in that. He said that they have that there at BYU if that was important to you, but he said that wasn't the most important thing. That stuff doesn't really mean much to me. I don't really care about that kind of stuff.

"I care more about the spiritual side of things because BYU is a church school, and my parents want me to go and grow up around kids in the Church. My family is strong in the Church and all that stuff. It also helped me to know that Coach Mendenhall wants to help be something more than just a football player…he wants to help you succeed in life. When he said he wasn't there to recruit you but to educate you, I was shocked. But that's what he did. I really changed my mind about BYU and really made me really want to go there now."

Heimuli's experience during Junior Day helped endear his heart more towards what Coach Mendenhall and BYU are truly about.

"It made my interest level go from medium to high," Heimuli said. "It made it go really high."

So what did Heimuli think of the flag bearer standard that Mendenhall talked about in order to illustrate how everyone on the team is a representative of the program, the school and the Church?

"I think it's true," said Heimuli. "[People in Provo and everywhere else know] that if you're a BYU football player you have standards that you have to live up to, and so if you mess up you're pretty much embarrassing the program."

Heimuli also remembers what Coach Mendenhall said concerning fighting for one another on the field of battle like the Spartan 300 did during the battle of Thermopylae.

"I think it's true what he said about fighting for one another," said Heimuli. "On the field everyone has to do their part and if you do your own thing and not work as a team, you're going to fail. Everyone has to do their part and you have to fight for the guy next to you in order for your team to succeed."

With the room's walls adorned with long rectangular pieces of cardboard decorated with drawings by current BYU football players of what was important to them, Heimuli pondered for a moment on what types of personal representative symbols he would put on his shield if asked by Coach Mendenhall to present one.

"I would put a Book of Mormon on there," said Heimuli. "I never really thought about that until now. I would probably put a big "Y" in the middle for the BYU program. I would probably put a picture of my family and something to represent my education. I would probably put a missionary tag on there too. Things like that."

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