Louisiana running back has BYU ties

There's a little bit of Utah flavor in the Deep South in Louisiana, and it comes in the form of the Palelei family, which once lived just south of Salt Lake City. Running back Sione Palelei is now heading into his junior year of high school football and is beginning to make waves in the Bayou State.

If there ever was someone who met the description of the term "lightning in a bottle," it would be East Ascension High School running back Sione Palelei.

The 5-foot-9-inch, 191-pound Palelei possesses quick feet and shifty hips. He plays running back, safety and slot receiver, although he favors one those positions in particular.

"I like playing running back because it's a lot more interesting to me," said Palelei, who is LDS. "I like to see if I can get from point a to point b as fast as I can. I run a 4.4 forty and my shuttle is a 4.1."

So far the only college camp Palelei has attended was at LSU.

"It was good out there at LSU and I learned a lot of things," he said. "I talked with Les Miles and he said he was really interested in me. He said they were going to recruit me hard and all that. Overall, I kind of liked it."

Palelei attended the National Underclassmen Combine in Atlanta, and his test results ranked higher than all the other skill position players in attendance. He recorded a 34.5-inch vertical, 4.41 forty, 4.1 shuttle, 9-foot-10-inch broad jump, and did 36 reps of 155 pound in the bench press. It was reported that he was the quickest among the backs, and he was named the MVP of the combine.

Originally from Sandy, Utah, Palelei's family moved to Louisiana for work and has settled in the small countryside town of Gonzales, just south of Prairieville and Baton Rouge.

"At first it was kind of hard and I didn't really like it," said Palelei, who was in the seventh grade when his family moved. "I wasn't really used to being down here my first year, but then I started liking how it was down here. It's a little more live football-wise out here than it was back home.

"The difference between being out here and back home is there is more speed out here. But back home, there's more power. When I was back home, I was used to playing against all that power. When I got out here I used that power, but now have been getting my speed up really well."

He grew up playing with cousins Meti Talialui, a defensive tackle who recently committed to BYU, and running back Ula Tolutau, who was recently offered by the Cougars.

"Yeah, we used to play together in little league on the same team and we're all family," said Palelei. "[Talialui] messaged me the other day and told me about his offer from BYU. He was texting me and telling me about it and all that and said he committed."

Palelei also received word that Tolutau was offered by Coach Mendenhall as well.

"Yeah, he should take it," Palelei said. "But it's whatever he wants to do."

It's not surprising that Palelei feels his other cousin should accept the Cougar offer, given his family's ties to BYU.

"When I lived in Utah, my family used to just talk all about BYU," Palelei said. "When we were growing up we used to talk about how we all wanted to go there and how great of a college it was. BYU is the school that represents my religion and all that. I have a lot of family going there and I like how their program is."

Palelei mentioned that he wouldn't mind visiting with Coach Mendenhall or a member of the BYU coaching staff.

"Yeah, that would be nice, but to be honest I don't know what I would say," Palelei said. "I would be a little nervous."

Being a young man in the presence of a college head coach, Palelei's nervousness would be understandable. But it's almost certain the discussion, if there ever was one, would revolve around the subjects that matter most to Palelei.

"The most important thing for me is my family," Palelei said. "That's because they're always there for me no matter what. Then without [God], I wouldn't have a place to turn to for answers and guidance. He's my answer and my backup plan and helps me all the time."

With two years of high school football left to play, he's also mulling over serving a mission.

"Yeah, I'm still thinking about that," he said. "I'm thinking I might go and serve a mission, but I'm still thinking about that right now."

As of now the focus for Palelei is the next two years of high school. When his prep career begins to wind down, he'll then take a closer look at different colleges. Until then, he'll just keep running towards the future.

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