Vakalahi Joins the Fold

In the midst of getting ready for the seaso,n Cougar coaches received some welcomed news from Fono Vakalahi Thursday during practice. Vakalahi decided to commit to sign a letter of intent with BYU this coming February.

"I called up Coach Kaufusi to tell him, and I guess it was while they were out there practicing," said Fono Vakalahi. "Coach Kaufusi then handed the phone to Bronco and it was a good talk. He told me how pleased he was that I made the decision and it made me even more sure of what I decided."

Vakalahi is a monster 6-foot-4-inch, 320-pound offensive lineman from Bryan, Texas. After battling through an injury a year ago while playing left tackle, Vakalahi is making the move to center for his final senior year due to a couple of factors.

"I'm going to most likely play center while at BYU," informed Vakalahi. "Coaches also like having me there to call out plays and sort of run the offensive line. I'm excited about playing center."

Vakalahi plans to play a year before leaving for a definite church mission. As a member of the LDS Church, Vakalahi expressed that BYU being his church's school was likely the deciding factor in his decision to commit.

"It's the environment and the atmosphere there that was most important to me," said Vakalahi. "With it being my church school, I can play with and be around people of my standards, so that was something that really appealed to me."

Vakalahi received two nudges in the right direction. One from his older brother Mosese who works for Texas A&M, and the other was from former Cougar Vai Sikehema.

"My brother has been following BYU and really investigating their program through the internet and he really recommended that I go there," said Vakalahi. "Also, I know that Vai Sikehema played there and he's always been sort of a hero to me. I lived with his sister in Washington for about three years growing up, so I got to know Vai and had all the respect in the world for him. So playing where Vai played is something special to me."

Vakalahi learned from his brother and by following BYU himself that it's considered an up-and-coming program that is expected to reach new heights in the coming years.

"What is going on at BYU right now is exciting and I want to be a part of it," said Vakalahi. "Along with what the school has to offer, the football program is really doing well. I love all the coaches down there. I really like Coach Weber. He's an easy guy to talk to and I felt that he really helped me improve while I was down there during Junior Day."

Indeed, BYU coaches offered Vakalahi following his Junior Day performance. At the time, Vakalahi also had an offer from Baylor. Since that time, coaches from Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Hawaii and Texas A&M, among other schools, have come by to check him out or have called him over the phone. But for Vakalahi, BYU was the place for him.

"I might have received some more offers, but I wanted to get it done with," said Vakalahi. "I know BYU is the place for me and I don't need to look at any other schools. I wanted to get the decision over with before the season so I can concentrate on dominating this coming season."

Vakalahi describes himself as your classic "big ugly" along the offensive front, as he loves and thrives in the trenches where the dirty work goes on.

"That's why I love football," said Vakalahi. "I love getting down and dirty out there on the football field. I love hitting people and dominating people. That's what football is all about."

In committing to BYU, Vakalahi recognizes that he'll join a very good football program and become a student of a top school that holds his standards.

"Being part of BYU's team is everything I could hope for," said Vakalahi. "I love the school, the coaches and the environment there. I know it's where I need to be and I know it's the place that will help me reach my goals more than any other place."

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