BYU Interested in LDS Linebacker

This week, BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi was down in Cerritos, California, where he spoke to the head football coach of Gahr High School about a talented LDS Polynesian middle linebacker that now has four scholarship offers.

Coming in at 6 feet 2 inches and 230 pounds, Lene Lesatele – a Samoan whose family comes from the Samoan island of Savaii – describes himself as a hard-hitting, aggressive player that can play any linebacker position in the 3-4 defense.

"I like to hit, plain and simple," said Lesatele, who said he bench presses 320 pounds and squats 425. "Mostly all of my tackles are hits. I also like to motivate my team and be a leader on the field. If my team is down, I try and motivate them and be a leader out there on the field. I'm very explosive and have good acceleration."

Lesatele's high school coaches utilize him in various ways on defense.

"My coaches like to move me around a lot. They either play me at outside linebacker or middle linebacker. We play like a 3-4-4 defense, so when they move me to the outside linebacker I'm like a stand-up defensive end. They play me either way on the weak side or the strong side.

"I like the 3-4 defense because if you play on the outside edge, you can stand up and rush the quarterback's blind side from the weak side. I'm really good at rushing the quarterback, so playing that weak side is fun. My coaches also play me in the middle so I can be a run-stopper and plug up that middle. They mostly put me on the edge so I can blitz the quarterback."

Lesatele said he doesn't mind being move around so much.

"It doesn't matter, I just like making the play," Lesatele said. "If I had to choose, I would like to continue rushing the quarterback from the weak side. I just like to hit that quarterback."

Lesatele watched a few BYU games last season. One in particular was the Cougars' season opener against Oklahoma. It was then he saw Coleby Clawson, an outside linebacker that plays the spot he most favors in the 3-4 defense, hit Heisman Trophy winner and eventual number-one NFL draft pick Sam Bradford.

"I remember the hit but can't remember who hit him," said Lesatele. "That was a good game and I was happy BYU won. They had a good season, but some of the games they lost I feel they should have won. They had a really good quarterback and I thought he did pretty good."

Lesatele said he racked up about six sacks last season. As for academics, he claims some impressive figures.

"I have a 3.78 GPA and already took the SAT," Lesatele said. "I scored a 1360 on it but want to take it again to try and get a higher score. I guess that's a passing score for a football scholarship."

To date, four schools have offered Lesatele, who will be a senior next season.

"Washington came by [two days ago] and they offered me a scholarship," Lesatele said. "They want me to come to their summer camp. Air Force, Hawaii and Nevada have also offered me a scholarship as well. Washington offered me a scholarship but they want me to come down to their camp and talk to the coaches and stuff."

Cougar coaches have also taken notice of Lesatele.

"BYU just came by yesterday to my school around lunch time," Lesatele said. "It was their defensive line coach [Steve Kaufusi] and he's a member of my faith. He was talking to my coach about me. Coach Marshall told me they were coming down and then called me in and I was a bit nervous.

"Coach Kaufusi told my coach that he really liked my size. My coach showed him my highlight tape and he said that they really like me and want to offer me a scholarship, but I have to go to their camp. They want me to come to their summer camp to see more of me and see if I qualify."

It seems his highlight tape left an impression on Coach Kaufusi.

Coach Kaufusi, in turn, seems to have left an impression on Lesatele.

Lesatele is happy that he's been offered an invitation to come to Provo to put his football skills on display and possibly earn a scholarship offer.

"Oh, I'm excited about that," he said. "BYU is one of my top schools basically because of my religion. I'm Mormon and that's why BYU is one of my top schools. My parents want me to go there and the education is really good. When I told my mom [Fa'asamoa Lesatele] she was really happy, really happy about it.

Lesatele said he isn't sure if he'll serve a mission.

"I haven't really thought much about it, but I am strong in my religion. I don't party or do those things that my religion teaches us not to do. I just don't know if I'm going to go on my mission or not."

As for this summer, Lesatele plans on taking Coach Kaufusi up on his invitation to BYU's summer camp.

"I'm going to drive up there and see how it is. I'll be going up there to their camp and have family on my mom's side that live up there. I have a cousin that played quarterback and he's from Orem."

So the question is, when Lesatele goes up to BYU to participate in their summer camp and possibly performs well enough to earn a scholarship offer, what next?

"Well, just commit already," he said. "Yeah, that's probably what I would do. I hope they offer me. I'm looking for a good education and football program, and I also want a peaceful environment. I want a good environment and that's important to me."

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