Cougars show interest in big Cali lineman

There is an old saying in the island of Tongatapu: "The reason there are no mountains in Tonga is because the mountains are in the hearts of the people." That can definitely be said of one 6-foot-7-inch, 350-pound Tongan senior that BYU has shown some interest in.

He's big, really big. Offensive lineman Emerald Faletuipapai is a mountain of a young man with strength to boot.

"I'm 6'7" and weigh around 350 pounds right now, but I want to bring my weight down to around 325 pounds by about the middle of the season," said Faletuipapai. "I'm pretty strong in the weight room, and I can bench around 325 and I'm working my way up 350. I squat around 510."

Faletuipapai has an offer from the University of Hawaii.

"I ran into their coach a couple of times and spoke to Coach Lewis [Powell], who is actually Tongan, and he told that their head coach was interested. Then they gave me an offer and that was my first offer, so other coaches said to come back but I never had the chance. I'm not worried about it though because I know it will come during the season. So, I'm just taking it slow."

So what kind of a football player is Faletuipapai? Once he gets his hands on the defender, he's hard to shake. Usually defenders are lying on their backs by the time the play is finished.

"I just try to go all out every play and I try not to take any breaks on the field," said Faletuipapai. "Last year was really my first time playing as a junior. I was still trying to get used to it and the coaches were telling me what I needed to do and work on for the next season.

"Coming into my senior year, I want to be more disciplined and try and be a leader on the team. I'm just going to church and working hard to play football and get better. I just want to continue dominating on the line of scrimmage and use my size and strength to dominate."

Faletuipapai plays for Junipero Serra High School, a private Christian school located in Gardena, California.

"It's a good school to be at. I'm looking at BYU and I know BYU is a good private school. I'm looking to go to a college where I can get a great education and be around good people. I want to see if I can get my family up there."

Junipero Serra High School will be playing Utah's East High School on September 1. Faletuipapai wants to try and come up early, if he can, in order to visit BYU's campus and meet the coaches.

"One of my uncles is LDS and he lives up there in Utah," Faletuipapai said. "We want to go check out BYU and see some of the Utah schools. Coach Kaufusi told me that he wanted me to try and get out there for a visit a while ago, so when we go up there I hope to be able to visit BYU."

This Wednesday, his high school will be scrimmaging against another private Christian school that is familiar to BYU fans: Servite High School.

"I know Butch Pau'u, who played there last year," said Faletuipapai. "I had to block him and he's a tough and smart player. His brother Neil is the quarterback there, and so we'll be going against each other. It should be a lot of fun."

Meanwhile, Faletuipapai has a big heart to fill his big frame. He often spends time at his Christian church being an example for younger kids and teaching them how to play football.

"I want to be someone that my little brothers and sisters can look up to," Faletuipapai said. "I just want to be a good example to others. That's why I'm working hard to do things right on and off the field. I have a lot of younger kids looking up to me, so I have to do things the right way to be a great example to them.

"Sometimes at church, I'll teach the little kids how to play football and spend time with them. It's a lot of fun and I teach them how to block or how to make a tackle after church on Saturday. If I can help kids look at things in a positive light, then I'm helping them and doing some good being a good example to them."

Sometime during the recruiting period last spring, Faletuipapai spoke to BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman.

"I had been talking to their offensive coordinator and he wants me to talk to their offensive line coach," said Faletuipapai. "He said that BYU's offensive line coach is really interested in me. They said something about coming up a while ago for a camp or something like that, but I wasn't able to go."

The BYU coach that discovered the big Tongan is Coach Kaufusi.

"Yeah, I actually talked to him also and he's a great person," said Faletuipapai. "He seems like a really great man and talks to me about BYU. He says that BYU is the place for me and I'm really looking forward to seeing BYU. He talked to me about the higher standards of BYU and what's expected of you when you go there. They don't just recruit football players, they recruit character kids and that's something me and my parents like.

"My parents are always talking to me about being disciplined and making sure we do thing the right way. The school that I go to is a private Christian School and I think a place like BYU would be a good fit for me. I want to go check it out when I get up there. I've been meaning to call them, but I know they're all busy with fall camp and getting ready for the up-and-coming season. I need to do that."

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