Texas Safety Interested in BYU

BYU coaches are interested in 6-foot, 185-pound Ilaiu Moeakiola, a junior-to-be free safety and kick returner from Trinity High School in Texas. Voted the newcomer of the year for the Trojans, Moeakiola was named as one of the top 5A sophomores in the state of Texas.

Kansas, Wisconsin, Texas A&M and Texas Tech are getting ready to throw their hat into the ring for the services of Ilaiu Moeakiola. This fast, hard-hitting Tongan plays strong safety for the Trojans of Trinity High School. As an underclassman, Moeakiola has already made some waves in the Lone Star State as a force to be reckoned with.

"I had one interception and 108 tackles and 15 pass breakups," Moeakiola said. "I play strong safety and I also return kicks. I was selected as the newcomer of the year and was selected as a first-team Jodatoa prospect, which is a Polynesia page that lists the top Polynesian players. I was also named a first-team all-5A sophomore. I just have to thank my Heavenly Father for helping and guiding me. My older brother has experience with football and he helped me a lot also."

A member of the Methodist faith, Moeakiola is deeply religious.

"Last week I went to a church camp and it was the first time I went," said Moeakiola. "It's really helped me draw closer with my relationship with God. I'm really happy to do this and get closer to Him because if I make it big I can share my testimony to others about God. I want to inspire other athletes that you can make it with the help of God on your side."

Moeakiola's dream is to go to college and then on to the NFL if possible so he can help take care of his family. Mature for his age, Moeakiola has a strong desire to excel both on the football field and in the classroom.

"Right now I just want to look at where I want to be for the next four years. One thing that I'm really looking at is academics because that plays a big part in my life. If I don't have that chance to make it into the league, I have a degree to fall back on to not only help me but my family. I'm also looking for a college that will help keep me in line and stay out of trouble to help me stay focused towards accomplishing my dreams. Right now I'm keeping my grades straight and staying away from any trouble that's out here. My number one priority is my grades. If you can't get it done in the classroom you won't get it done out on the football field."

Last summer, Moeakiola attended BYU's summer camp. While there, he was able to learn more about the Cougar program and speak with Coach Mendenhall.

"It was such a great experience being out there," Moeakiola said. "I got a chance to show the coaches the football skills that I have and not only represent me and God but my family as well. I wanted to try and do my best and get some exposure out there so that maybe one day I can play for the Cougars. I got a chance to talk to Coach Mendenhall and he's a great man. He's straight up and honest with you and tells it like it is. He told me straight up what to expect if you sign here. He wasn't the kind of coach that kept away the bad stuff and only talked about the good. He talked to me about both the positives and the negatives of the school, and that's one thing I really liked about him because he's not going to hide it from you.

"When I was being evaluated during the drills, I was pulled aside and Coach Mendenhall asked me about the camp. He talked to me about some things that I need to work on and what my advantages are as a football player. I really took his advice to heart and started working on those things. Coach Mendenhall is really a great coach and cares for the players. He tells it like it is."

Coach Mendenhall wasn't the only aspect about BYU that impressed Moeakiola.

"One of the positives I learned about was the academics and that really hit me hard," he said. "Like I said, academics is number one for me. I also really liked the people there and felt comfortable there. I know that if I were to go there, I wouldn't be the only Poly at the school. It was great to see all these Polynesians there. It was great to see people who are like yourself there, and a lot of people who are diverse, living the same kinds of standards. It would be great to go to a place where people know what a Tongan is. I really felt comfortable there with all the people and that was a real positive for me.

"One negative that I learned about BYU really is a positive for me. For some people, not having that party life and being expected to live a higher standard might be a negative for some people. I look at it as a positive. Having guidelines and a curfew and standards that you're expected to live by is an advantage to me. It keeps you in line and away from trouble so you can just focus on the reasons why you're there."

BYU's mission to develop student athletes into something more caught this deeply religious gridiron warrior's attention.

"I think BYU is probably one of the only colleges that expects you to live by your faith," he said. "I think that's pretty much it. It just helps you live the life you were taught by your parents and keep it the way you want it and not in a worldly way. In the Bible, you don't want to live your life in a worldly way but in a Christian way, and I think it's a good place to help others who are trying to make it.

"Yeah, it would be a great opportunity if BYU offered me a scholarship. I would hold BYU as one of my top schools because of the academics and all the other things like the standards that is expected of you there. My family thinks BYU is a good school even though we are not Mormon but Methodist. My parents look at it as an opportunity for me to go to a place that would keep me in line and go forward in life. I would like to surround my life with people like that so I can keep living a Christian life style."

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