Leiataua visits BYU

This past weekend the BYU coaches received a visit from a top-rated defensive lineman recruit who holds BYU high on his list. The question on everyone's mind is whether BYU will be able to extend an offer to a top-50 national prospect when it's all said and done.

Uriah Leiataua is a BYU fan and loves what BYU stands for and what the football program is all about. He recently came up to Utah from California to visit a few in-state schools.

"I loved going to BYU and it was really chill," said Leiataua, who is rated the No. 37 defensive end prospect in the 2014 class. "I went up there last Saturday and we also went up to Utah."

The 6-foot-4-inch, 265-pound Dominquez High School recently picked up an offer from the Utes.

"My coaches have told me that Utah has offered me," said Leiataua. "I asked them about BYU and he said he hasn't heard from them. I just called Coach Tujague and he said they haven't offered. He told me they are interested in it but they have a scholarship shortage because of return missionaries."

There were three potential recruits that attended BYU's practice on Monday. One was Thor Katoa and his younger brother, who play for Pineview High School in Saint George. The other was Leiataua, who is LDS and holds BYU as his number-one choice.

"I actually visited BYU twice," said an excited Leiataua. "I went [Monday] and I went last Saturday. It was really cool because Coach Tujague spotted me out of the crowd. He was like, ‘Uriah!' and came over to give me a big hug. I was going in to give him a handshake but then he gave me a big ol' hug! I just thought that was really great."

Tujague wasn't the only coach that he met with.

"I then had a chance to meet all the coaches and it was great," Leiataua said. "Coach Mendenhall was in his normal clothes and he came up to me, but I didn't really know it was him and had a mouth full of food. It was kind of funny. After that all the other coaches came up to us like Coach Poppinga, Andrew George and Coach Kaufusi. It was really cool."

The visit was a unique experience for Leiataua.

"Yeah, I [loved] attending practice yesterday," said Leiataua, who will be leaving home for California on Tuesday. "It was really cool and I got a chance to have some chalk-talk time with Coach Kaufusi and the other d-linemen. They let us in and we saw all the scrimmage film and they were discussing the different plays. It was really cool."

However, he left BYU's campus without the one thing he was really hoping for, and that was a full-ride scholarship from Coach Mendenhall.

"I was actually a little bummed out after I left," said Leiataua. "I didn't get an offer because of the shortage of scholarships with all the missionaries coming back, so I was actually a little bummed out. I know they're really interested in me because Coach Tujague and Coach Kaufusi made sure that I was able to see all the drills they were doing during practice. They wanted me to follow them so I could see it. It was really cool."

But the big Samoan who holds BYU dear to his heart is staying positive and is hopeful that in time he'll receive that scholarship offer.

"That's my school! BYU wants me to attend a camp but it's going to be hard for me this summer. I'm already in a program for this summer to go to Samoa that's being paid for by the University of Wyoming. It's an all-expense paid thing for nutrition and they pay all the expenses to go to Samoa. I'm also putting my application in for S.O.A.R., which is a multicultural program to help students for college preparation. So, I don't know if I'll be able to go out to BYU's camp."

Leiataua wants to try and at least make it out to BYU for one day if all goes as planned. With the scholarship crunch facing the Cougar program over the next few years, Leiataua is going to have to weigh the value between possibly receiving a coveted BYU scholarship and attending another summer program.

"Yeah, I talked to the coaches about all of that," Leiataua said. "I told them that I'm planning on going to these summer programs, and they just asked me to just show up for one day. I'm really trying to do that and I want to show up for at least one day. I'm going to try and do that."

Leiataua is a member of the 2014 class. Following high school he plans on serving an LDS mission. That would mean he would return around the 2016 season if he leaves right after high school.

"I'm hoping that maybe they'll have some scholarships available. I'm hoping everything works out."

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