BYU Offers LDS Linebacker

BYU has extended a full-ride scholarship offer to a linebacker with two years of high school left. Originally from Kahuku, Hawaii, where he would have played if his family had not relocated, this LDS linebacker should expect some competition for his services.

Jared Afalava didn't start the entire season last year for Bingham High School – a school that sent many quality prospects to BYU with more to come – but he'll be starting next season as the Miners look to defend their state championship.

"[Afalava] came to us from Kahuku and his family moved here from Hawaii when Jared was in the eighth grade," Bingham head coach Dave Peck said. "He would have been going to Kahuku if his family had stayed. Ironically, we're playing Kahuku this year and he'll be starting for us when we do. He's around 6'3", 220-pound sophomore linebacker and started through the playoffs for us in the middle. We're going to move him out this year, and he'll start for us as an outside linebacker come fall."

"Well, when I was younger I used to play quarterback, and then I came here and tried it out I wasn't too good" Afalava said. "I then started playing middle linebacker and that's what I played last year. This year I'm going to switch to Will outside linebacker.

"I played backup last year but when the two backers that were ahead of me got injured, I stepped in and started for the playoffs. My first start was against Syracuse High School and I finished up the game. Then I started against Jordan and played ‘til we won the state championship."

There was another Afalava that BYU recruited from Kahuku a few years back. Safety Al Afalava was a hard-hitting, downhill player that eventually committed to Oregon State and now plays for the Chicago Bears, and he's Jared's cousin.

The offer to Jared Afalava brings the total of Bingham Miners with BYU offers to six – four committed and two uncommitted. So why would BYU offer another football player from Bingham High School when so many have already been offered?

"… [Afalava] runs really well for his size and age," Coach Peck said. "He has a great body and is a very good athlete. He's been [verbally] offered by Utah and is being recruited by Oregon and some of these other Pac-10 schools. I don't know what his plans are but I know his parents love BYU."

Currently, Bingham High School has 11 players within the football program that have Division I scholarship offers. Bridger Peck, a safety and younger brother of BYU defensive end Remington Peck, and offensive lineman Jordan Hicks were offered by Utah State last Monday. Afalava is just another player that can add his branch to the Miner genealogical tree of players produced by the program.

"BYU offered me and Utah and Wyoming verbally offered me," Afalava said. "They told me that they were going to offer me, but BYU offered me about two to three weeks ago. I was shocked.

"Coach Doman came out here the day before, and that evening my coach called me and said that BYU wanted to meet with me," Afalava continued. "My coach said, 'Coach Mendenhall wants you to come down to BYU tomorrow around 4:00 for a meeting.' I wasn't really expecting anything. He just kind of explained to me kind of how it is on the football field and with the football players and stuff."

Coach Mendenhall paid Afalava a great compliment as he spoke with him.

"He had a whole board with a list of his football players and stuff, and he was talking about his players," said Afalava. "He told me, 'You are no different than one of them, from what I see.' One of the players he talked about and made reference to was [former Bingham Miner] Jordan Pendleton. Then he said, 'With that being said, I want to offer you a scholarship.' I was just thinking he was going to ask me a bunch of questions, so when he handed me the scholarship I was shocked. He wanted me to read it but I stuttered on a few words because I was shocked. I was way excited. This was my first scholarship."

Despite his excitement, Afalava didn't commit to Coach Mendenhall at that time in his office.

"He's just a sophomore and so he has two years left at Bingham," Coach Peck said. "It's hard to say what his thoughts are right now because he has so much time."

Nevertheless, Afalava said he really likes BYU.

"BYU is my number one school right now," Afalava simply stated. "It's my church school. It's my first college offer and it's a really good program. From what Coach Mendenhall was telling me about BYU, I really liked it.

"My parents kind of knew that I was going to get a scholarship offer, but they were surprised. They were also very excited for me."

Afalava said that he isn't sure whether or not he'll serve a mission yet.

Meanwhile, BYU has an ace up its sleeve in regards to recruiting Afalava because his sister will be going to BYU on a volleyball scholarship.

"Her name is Taeja and she was an all-state player here," Afalava said. "She wanted to go to BYU because it was her dream school she said. She always wanted to go there. She always tells me to go there. She says, 'Come to school with me.' She's always telling me that and how BYU is a good school."

Not only has his sister been encouraging him to go to BYU, but Afalava has also been receiving some nudging from his Bingham teammates that have committed to the Cougars.

"When I came back from BYU, everyone was like, 'Oh, did you commit, did you commit?'" said Afalava. "I told them that I didn't and they were like, 'Oh yeah, you gotta commit.' I don't want to commit right now because I'm young and I would like to go on recruiting trips and stuff. I don't want to commit right now."

Given that Afalava is LDS, BYU is close to home, and that his sister and some of his teammates are going to BYU, it would seem like the recruiting situation would favor the Cougars in the end.

"I want to go to a school with a good football program and good environment," he said. "Having good people and friends around you is important, and you always gotta have good people to hang around. I'm looking for a school with good academics and of course a good football team."

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