Filiaga Discusses Trips to BYU and Utah

Having already taken an official visit to BYU a few weekends ago, Bingham High School linebacker L.T. Filiaga recently visited the campus at the University of Utah. Total Blue Sports caught up with Filiaga for his thoughts on his visits to BYU and Utah.

L.T. Filiaga, a 6-foot-1-inch, 235-pound middle linebacker from the state of Utah, said he really enjoyed his official trip to BYU.

"My trip to BYU was great," recalled Filiaga. "We went out to eat and toured the facility and talked with the coaches. It was great because I got to know all the new recruits and some of the players better. It was a chance for me to know BYU in a different way. It was a chance for me to see what type of players I would be around or have as teammates. It also gave me a chance to know some of the newer players that are now there as well. I also got a chance to talk to Coach Mendenhall one-on-one, as well as Coach Tidwell. I have a lot of respect for the BYU coaches."

One aspect about his trip to BYU that Filiaga enjoyed was being among family and friends that were having or had already had similar experiences to what he was having during the recruiting process. This was one aspect about his trip to BYU that will be hard to match on other campuses.

"Knowing most of the recruiting class that was there that day, like Tui [Crichton], Manti [Te'o], Jrey [Galea'i] and many others made it a lot funner for me," said Filiaga. "I was comfortable to just be myself around them knowing that they were already my friends and some of them were my family. I'm related to Jrey on his mother's side and I'm also related to Tui on his mother's side as well, so it was good being able to be around them. It was great because we could all be comfortable together and just have fun while we were there."

"It was fun at BYU and I was actually with Tui for a lot of the time," Filiaga continued. "It was really fun to be back with friends and family again. Jrey also said a lot to me about BYU. With Jrey being my nephew, we talk a lot about things. I asked him if he felt that BYU was the place for him and he felt that it was and gave me a bunch of reasons why he felt that way. I know he wants me to go to BYU and we talked about that, but he also knows that I have to make the choice on where I feel is best for me. He told me that he would support me no matter what, but I can tell he really wants me to play with him at BYU."

Hosting Filaga on his official recruiting trip to BYU was defensive tackle Russell Tialavea. The Tialavea name is the ‘Matai' or chieftain name for the Filiaga family, which means the Filiaga and Tialavea families are closely related. Tialavea got a chance to catch up with his younger cousin while he hosted him on his official visit to BYU.

"Russell Tialavea was my host and he's a great guy," said Filiaga. "He does seem like a quiet guy, but I'm related to him so it made it easier for us to talk. He didn't pressure me and force anything on me about BYU. He did tell me that BYU is a place that keeps you reminded about your standard and why we are here. He told me that BYU helps you to stay focused on the bigger picture because of where you're at and what is expected of you. When you play for BYU you represent more than just a football team, but your religion and people."

Coming along with L.T. Filiaga on his trip was his father Tui Filiaga, who had at one time was a part of BYU's strength and conditioning program. According to Filiaga the younger, his father also enjoyed being back on BYU's campus.

"It was really great for him because he loves BYU and had a chance at one time to coach with Coach Omer," said Filiaga. "So he got a chance to be there and had a great time with me and my mother. I know my dad enjoyed his trip with me and we talked about it."

This past weekend Filiaga returned home from an official visit to the University of Utah. While there, he was able to see what some of the difference between BYU and Utah were firsthand.

"It was good, but it was really different than what BYU had for me," said Filiaga. "It wasn't the same. I'm not saying it was bad, but you can tell there are differences."

So what were some of those differences?

"The difference was that at Utah they don't stress the rules [of the LDS faith] or those standards or anything like that," said Filiaga. "At Utah it's more relaxed. I'm not saying that they don't have standards there, but things were a little more kick-back and different where they let you decide on what you want to do. There's nothing wrong with having standards in place like what is found at BYU with the honor code. BYU is a church college and you see the difference between the two schools because of that. You can just tell there is just a difference between the type of emphasis between the two schools. It's kind of hard to explain. You just have to experience it yourself what the differences between BYU and Utah really are."

With trips to BYU and Utah now out of the way, Filiaga is going to try and take an official trip to the University of Washington, where former BYU quarterback and USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is now the head coach. If he does go to Washington, there is a chance that Filiaga may not take an official recruiting trip to Stanford.

"I just got off the phone with Washington for this weekend, and if [I don't visit there] then I'll go down to Stanford," Filiaga said. "I'm not quite sure if I'll go on my trip to Stanford if I go up to Washington, and we'll see what happens. It's kind of a time issue more than anything."

Filiaga told Total Blue Sports on a previous occasion that BYU was the school recruiting him the hardest, followed by Utah and so on. As the recruiting process has morphed into official recruiting trips, the recruiting intensity by those college programs has also changed.

"I would say BYU and Washington are the two schools that are recruiting me the hardest," said Filiaga. "Well, I would say BYU, Washington and Stanford are recruiting me the hardest. The thing is, Utah has filled up their linebacker recruiting slots and are recruiting the slots they need to fill harder than the linebacker position. In talking to Coach Tidwell, we went over the linebackers position and the depth chart. He showed me who is on the roster and who is going out or coming in and how I would fit into it all, so they laid all out for me, which was great to see."

Once his official visits are finished, Filiaga will then work on making his final decision.

"After I take my trips I plan on fasting and praying about my decision," Filiaga siad. "I know Heavenly Father knows what's best for me and I know that I can rely on him in helping me to make this decision, so once I do that than I'll talk it over with my family and let them know. I'll then inform coaches and hopefully they'll understand and accept my decision in regards to my career. Everyone will then know where I plan on spending the next four to five years of my life on signing day. I've always been told that there are so many kids that would love to have the opportunity that I have, so I just want to be humble about it and try and always to the right thing."

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