Receiving a scholarship offer from Coach Mendenhall must have been a very unique experience for all involved. With Corbin's father being a member of the Cougar staff, Coach Mendenhall has known and watched a young Corbin Kaufusi grow up to become the young man that he is now.
"We go way back," Corbin said with a laugh about him and Coach Mendenhall. "He's always followed how I was doing ever since he first came to BYU when I first met him. I think I was around eight or night years old or something like that. When we were in his office, he told me how he's always thought of me as this little boy, and that this was a big change for him to see me out there on the football field.
"After he talked about that, he then went on to talk about the whole mission statement of what BYU is about. Then he talked to me about the scholarship, and that's when I got so excited."
It's no surprise that the 6-foot-6-inch, 215-pound young Kaufusi received a scholarship offer from BYU. His agility and athleticism hold true to the family name, a family that was present when the scholarship was presented.
"I was just praying and hoping that I would get a scholarship," said Kaufusi. "I knew that when I was called to Bronco's office it was about something, and I was hoping it was going to be that. I wasn't really sure though and was hoping. It was great because my mom [Michelle], dad and brother were there with me. It was a neat experience for me."
Kaufusi had two difficult obstacles in his way that most recruits don't normally have to face. First, the Cougar coaching staff had a limited amount of scholarships to give this year.
Second, being the son of a college coach doesn't guarantee one an automatic scholarship. Rather, it was quite the opposite for Corbin. He had to prove himself and then prove himself again.
"My dad told Brandon Doman, the coach that recruits this area, that I have to earn every bit of it if I'm to even get a scholarship," Corbin said. "I had been working as hard as I can to earn a scholarship. I had to work out all the time and really worked hard on my technique. When I was at camps, I just tried to get as many reps as I could. I always tried to go the extra mile and just do a little more than the next guy. I tried to get more reps at the camps than the next guy and prove myself. I just had to be that guy that worked harder than everybody else."
Kaufusi, who will be part of the 2011 recruiting class, will start at defensive end for the Timpview Thunderbirds next season, and he may receive some playing time on the other side of the ball as well.
"I might play some offensive tackle too. I would have to get bigger than and just keep working hard and eating."
While Kaufusi might need to add about 70 pounds in order to be competitive as an offensive lineman, there are a few important things he already has as a defensive end and as the son of a coach: technique and personal effort. It's a formula that eventually landed him a Cougar scholarship.
"I'm really into technique," Kaufusi said. "I'm really into doing things perfect and playing my position the best I can. When I'm done doing my job what I need to do, I'm really active. I like to run to the ball and there is no lollygagging. I try to play as fast as I can and give 110 percent all the time. I love playing fast and I love hitting hard."
Prior to receiving his Cougar offer, Kaufusi was one of the top performers at the BYU Nike Camp. His combination of size and agility makes him a prospect with a lot of untapped potential.
"The Nike camp was a lot of fun," he said. "I really liked that camp a lot and did really well, I thought. There were a lot of good players there."
Not only is Kaufusi a very good football player, but he is also a talented basketball player for Timpview High School.
"Yeah, I play basketball too and I love playing basketball," Kaufusi said with a slight laugh in his voice. "I love playing basketball and football. I either play power forward or center, and sometimes I like to pop out and hit some three pointers, you know. I can also slam dunk it too."
Although Corbin's father coaches football for a living and his brother plays as well, life isn't all about football. As stressed by his father Steve, there must be balance in life away from sports. This week Corbin has been spending time with his ward's priesthood quorum down at Lake Powell.
"It's like a missionary prep sort of thing," he said. "We get up early and we study our scriptures and do devotionals and that kind of stuff. Then we go out on the lake and it's really fun and a great activity. I love it. We go on this houseboat after and go out on the lake and it's really neat. We do some fishing on the side."
Kaufusi said he is excited about serving a mission one day, so excited in fact that it doesn't matter where he goes.
"Oh, I don't care really," he said with a laugh in his voice. "I'll go wherever they need me. That's where I want to go."
What about the island of Tonga, where much of his family is from and where his father once served?
"Oh that would be incredible," he quickly said. "I've heard so much about Tonga and have some family down there. I think that would be an amazing experience to be able to go down there."
Kaufusi plans on enrolling at BYU before serving his mission, but doesn't want to use his redshirt before he leaves.
"My [19th] birthday is in April, so my plan is to try and get an academic scholarship to pay for my first year at BYU," Kaufusi said. "Well, that's if I can get an academic scholarship. If I can't, then I'll just work to pay for my first year and go part-time and just greyshirt. I don't want to use a year of eligibility before I go on my mission."