BYU Offers Utah Linebacker

Coach Mendenhall and his staff have extended a full-ride scholarship offer to a Utah linebacker that many BYU and Utah fans will soon know a lot about. Although he's only played the position one year, he's gained some notoriety among the top linebackers in the Northwest area.

He only played middle linebacker one year, but in that one year he raised a lot of eyebrows. Bingham High School's 6-foot-1-inch, 230-pound middle linebacker L.T. Filiaga was given a full-ride scholarship offer on Friday, February 29 by Coach Mendenhall to represent the Cougar program.

"I called Coach Doman and spoke to him on the phone and we were able to set up an appointment at BYU at the football office," said Filiaga. "We planned it for this past Friday at 9:00 in the morning. I was able to meet with Coach Mendenhall with my mom."

Coach Mendenhall spoke to Filiaga and his mother Tiana in his office about the Cougar program and its unique qualities.

"We talked about BYU's program and how they do things there," Filiaga said. "After he spoke to us about their priorities he then offered me a full-ride scholarship."

Filiaga was surprised and very excited to receive a scholarship from his church's college.

"It was a great experience and kind of shocking because of the way that Coach Mendenhall talked about what it takes to be a part of BYU's program," Filiaga said with a chuckle. "With him thinking that I can be a part of that program and his team knowing how high the program is and what it takes to be a part of it, I didn't think I could be a part of it. I guess he does and that's a blessing to me."

"The fastest forty time I've ever ran was a 4.57," said a humble Filiaga. "Just recently I was able to put up 315 on the bench press five times. I haven't maxed out on my bench press yet so I don't know how much I can max."

For his first year manning the inside, Filiaga racked up 98 tackles while playing next to fellow teammate Iona Pritchard, who committed to BYU for the 2008 recruiting class.

"It was my first year playing middle linebacker so I was still getting used to the position," said Filiaga. "I also played fullback as well and carried the ball four times for 37 yards on the season with two touchdowns. I was mainly used as a blocking fullback for our running back Sam Langi. It was the same for Iona Pritchard, who was also used for blocking."

L.T. Filiaga comes from a strong LDS family with BYU ties, and although his older brother Isley Filiaga, who at one point actually committed and signed at BYU, is now playing at the U of U, L.T. is very excited about the possibility of playing for a coach like Mendenhall and a university that represents his LDS faith.

"Being an LDS member, I believe Coach Mendenhall is a very righteous man and is true to his word," Filiaga said. "He talked to me about if I should commit to BYU that I should honor that commitment just like he will honor the scholarship offer he gave to me. Just knowing what he's done with the BYU program and with him being a man of his word who cares for his players really means a lot.

"Me and Coach Mendenhall went over some things that the prophet [Gordon B. Hinckley] had said. The prophet had said how it will be a hard experience to go through but that it will be worth it in the end. To be able to have the opportunity for myself and be able to work hard - knowing that if you make it through you'll be a better person - it really makes me feel good inside."

Filiaga now has two scholarship offers on the table. The other came to him by way of mail.

"Coach Whittingham sent in a scholarship [offer] to me in the mail," said Filiaga. "So that was pretty cool."

Although L.T.'s brother is currently at the U of U, L.T.'s approach to what college he will chose will depend more upon the answers he receives through prayer.

"My parents are just leaving it up to me," said Filiaga. "I'm not really favoring any side right now, but I'm going to take this approach in a religious way. I'm going to fast and pray about where I should go and then just go wherever Heavenly Father tells me."

As part of his prayerful approach, Filiaga will take into account what each school offers. He said he is looking for a school with standards like BYU has and that will honor his mission call. Additionally, he said he would take into account the school's academics.

Filiaga understands that with the many BYU football players having returned from serving LDS missions, his decision may have to come quicker than usual as there won't be as many scholarships available for this next class.

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