Tautu Being Mentored

BYU linebacker commit Sae Tautu might be one of the more underrated prospects in the highly rated 2010 Cougar class. With his senior season of prep football now over, Tautu, with the help of his bishopric, has turned his attention towards preparing for BYU football and the Utah state rugby championship held this weekend.

When former BYU defensive end Setema Gali was the Young Men's President in his ward, he magnified his calling by being more actively involved in the football lives of his youth. One young man Gali has heavily influenced over the years is BYU linebacker commit Sae Tautu.

"[Gali] worked with all the boys and taught us hand placement and things like that," said Tautu. "He really takes care of the youth in our ward and always gives us advice every Wednesday and Sunday when we see him. He'll pull us aside and do the little things that help us out. He's always taking us out and always coming to our games and critiquing us afterwards. He's a really good motivator."

Gali is now the second counselor in his ward's bishopric, and still works to positively influence Tautu and the rest of the youth.

"Setema has really taken care of the young men in our ward," Tautu said. "He's a great guy and actually helped me with my decision to commit to BYU. He also helped me a lot long before I even got my scholarship to play at BYU. When he found out I got a scholarship to BYU, he was really excited for me. He and my dad have really been my two mentors throughout this whole thing. He helped me with my on-field play and then with my decision-making process with BYU."

Joining Gali as a councilor in his bishopric is former BYU Cougar and NFL linebacker Spencer Reid.

"It's a BYU ward and it's all about BYU," said Tautu. "People pretty much show up in BYU ties over here. It's great because they'll ask us how our lives are going, and if you play football they'll give you advice. They always make sure we let them know when our practices and games are and will come through. It's very motivating and great to have that kind of support on and off the field."

After first learning Tautu had decided to commit to BYU, Gali's advice according to him was simple: "Now you have to prepare yourself for BYU football." Gali soon referred Tautu to a personal trainer to help him get ready for college football.

"I've been working out hard to get ready for BYU in the fall," Tautu said. "I want to try and come in and see if I can help out this year. I've been working with a personal trainer, Dave Stroshine, who is working with Manase [Tonga] and Fui [Vakapuna] and all them. I'm mostly working out with him and I wish I had known about this a year ago. I've become quicker, stronger and faster ever since I began working out with his program."

After playing college ball at Weber State, Dave Stroshine spent one year with the NFL's Tennessee Titans. Formerly with Velocity Sports, Stroshine runs his own training program in Orem.

"Dave Stroshine's workouts are really intense," said Tautu. "You go in and train with the best. When I went in I was running with Manase Tonga and Tim Toone [of Weber State who was the last pick of this year's NFL draft], and they really pushed me to the limits. It's good to work out with players that are ahead of you so they can really push you.

"My dad asked me if it has been helping me. I told him it was like driving a new car because my abilities as an athlete are now so much better. I just wish I knew about this last year and it has really helped me be a more powerful rugby player this year too."

Now that Tautu has finished his prep football career at Lone Peak High School, he applies his defensive-minded football prowess to the sport of rugby.

"I play for United and I play the number eight position," said Tautu. "It's more the linebacker and running back position in rugby. You get the ball a lot and you're also right behind the line, so you get to hit a lot too. Right now I'm around 6'3" and a half and around 225 pounds, so my size really helps me and I think it's the best position on the field, in my opinion. You gotta be fast like a running back, a hard hitter like a linebacker, and you have to also be smart to know what angles to take and when to pick your battles. It's really helped mold me in being the kind of football player that I am as far as toughness. I credit a lot of my football play to rugby."

Highland went on to hold it's reputation as a top-caliber program by defeating rising Utah rugby powerhouse United for the state championship last year. The two Utah teams then met up again in Pennsylvania for the national championship game, and Highland again came away as the victor. This weekend, Tautu and his United squad will face their familiar foe.

"We play Highland this Saturday for the state championship," Tautu said. "The national game will be held on the 21st and 22nd of May at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake. They'll take two teams from Utah, so no matter what, one team from Utah will be in the nationals. Last year we lost to Highland instate and went to Pittsburgh for nationals and lost to them again, so we want this game pretty bad because it's been us against them the past three years. We just have to come out on top this week."

Tautu said United has a shot to finally dethrone Highland as Utah's top rugby team this Saturday.

"This is the best our team has ever been and I think we'll give it our all," Tautu said. "Hopefully things will turn out for the best. Personally, I think we've got them this year. You still have to respect them, but I think we've got them this year. If all goes well and if I play well, I have a lot of people to thank.

"What those guys like Setema [Gali] and Spencer [Reid] that have all been to the NFL and been through it all have taught me is if you don't have your life in order off the field, success won't come easy. I'm just grateful for everything they've done for me in preparing me and being a good role model for me in my life, and that's helped me be successful in football and in rugby."

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