Fua Has Eyes Opened

Last weekend BYU hosted many top prospects from around the country in what was a star-studded gathering of football players. The day's events included workouts, campus tours and a chance to mingle with likeminded kids from all walks of life. For one prospect out of California, the experience was eye-opening.

Sure, many out-of-state LDS kids know that BYU is their church college. However, other than that there isn't necessarily much else known by a young football populous that didn't follow the Cougars during the glory years of the 80s and 90s. Educating the younger generation on what BYU is all about is a big priority of Coach Mendenhall's staff, and during the recent Junior Day events much of that was the focus.

"They showed us around the campus and that was really fun," Alani Fua said. "I got a chance to talk to Coach Mendenhall about the school and stuff. He talked to me about how BYU is really big on family, and how BYU has everything you need like church, family values and great football. BYU is basically the only place that can give you all of that, so that's one thing that really got me thinking more about BYU because I really learned a lot."

Along with their parents, the young recruits were further informed of the mission of both BYU and the football program. Coach Mendenhall laid it out in a comprehensive view for all in attendance.

"The main message Coach Mendenhall was trying to get out was that going to BYU was more than just about football," Fua said. "It's not just about playing football, but accomplishing more than just one thing. It's about developing into a better LDS man … to raise a family better. Football is one of the last priorities in comparison to the more important things in life. I think these things are really important and it really helped me a lot. Just being surrounded by guys that believe in the same things as me is really a cool thing."

Fua said the Junior Day experience was very informative.

"Yeah, it really helped me to understand a lot," said Fua. "I didn't really know a lot about BYU other than it just being a [Mormon] school. Now I know more about BYU, like [how] it's a great business school with a lot more to offer than I thought at first. So yeah, it made me learn a lot more and like what BYU is about."

There was more to Junior Day than just the informative side, however. The prospects also got a chance to showcase their talents on the field among a group of some of the most talented athletes in the nation.

"There was a lot of competition there and it was really fun," said Fua. "I wasn't really expecting there to be that much competition there but there was a lot. It made it really fun. I was talking with Zac [Stout] and Ross [Apo] the whole time and we were just mingling and stuff. It was kind of funny because me and [Jake] Heaps play against each other later on in the season next year and so we were just kind of talking trash to each other. I was teasing him about how many sacks I'm going to have against him in our up-and-coming game."

Fua's fellow high school teammate Zac Stout committed to BYU in front of the local press in Salt Lake City prior to Junior Day. While spending time together on BYU's campus, Stout made his feelings known to Fua concerning where he should play college football at.

"Yeah, Zac was trying to get me to commit while I was over there and since then he's been nagging me about that," Fua said. "He was telling me that I need to commit and stuff. It's kind of funny."

Stout committed to BYU together with the nation's top ranked quarterback in Jake Heaps and highly recruited receiver Ross Apo, who decommitted from Texas. Fua has taken notice and said that the possibility of playing with some of the top talent in the country is a definitely a positive.

"Having big-name guys at the same school as you really helps out because you know that once you're all together you have a good team," said Fua. "You know that you have a chance of winning some championships. So yeah, I think having guys like Jake Heaps and Zac and Ross really helps out a lot."

For Fua, the highlight of BYU's Junior Day wasn't the competition and experiences he had while facing some top prospects on the football field. Instead, it was something a bit more subtle.

"The highlight of my experience was being able to go around the campus and meeting and getting to know some of the future players on the team, getting to know some of the guys that might be your future friends or roommates," Fua said. "It was just good meeting a lot of new guys."

While on campus, Fua noticed something different that he wasn't expecting. It was a feeling he usually recognized while sitting among the church pews on Sunday.

"It was kind of strange because mostly when I was at BYU I could feel the Spirit," Fua said. "It was the weirdest feeling to be able to feel the Spirit while at a college. That was something that was different than other places. It was really good. My mom and dad were with me and felt the same things as I did."

While attending the Cougar's Junior Day activities over the weekend, the Fua family was able to visit and stay with family living near BYU. Having family nearby is definitely something that could play into Fua's eventual choice of where to play college football..

"I want to go to a place were I'll have a lot of family around and a good support system," Fua said. "Also, being in a good environment also helps a lot. I also want to go to a school where I can get a good education, so if I didn't ever make it to the pros I can still have a good education to fall back on and still be successful. I want to study something along the lines of business in college, and I know that BYU is one of the best business colleges around."

Fua said he's been thinking about when he's going to make a decision on where to attend school, and that the decision may come within the next several months.

"I'm probably going to make a decision before our season starts," said Fua. "I'll probably make it around August or September so I can just focus on my final season."

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