BYU Offers Rising Kahuku Prospect

The BYU Cougar coaching staff is mining the rich recruiting grounds on the shores of Laie located in the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Coach Mendenhall has extended a full ride scholarship offer to a rising Kahuku High School star that became overly emotional upon receiving his BYU scholarship offer.

A junior-to-be (2016 class) at Kahuku High School (Laie, HI), Hirkley Latu comes in at 6'3" and 200-pounds making him an ideal target for college recruiters. He's quick, athletic, and possesses great instincts and tenacity which makes him that versatile athlete coaches love to recruit.

On the second day of BYU's summer camp, Latu was pulled aside and worked out with a select group by BYU coaches.

"They pulled me aside with a couple of other boys and ran us through some drills," said Latu. "I guess they were evaluating us, and then they called over to Coach Bronco Mendenhall to come watch us. Then after he watched us and finished evaluating us he pulled me aside and asked me if I wanted to commit. At first I was confused, but because of that I kind of had the thought that they were going to offer me. So, I just worked even harder during the one-on-one drills."

Following the day's camp activities, Hirkley Latu was invited to meet with Coach Mendenhall in his office, so he and his father Peni Latu took a stroll wondering what might lay ahead.

"After the practice I was told that Coach Mendenhall wanted to meet with me in his office," recalled Latu. "I was told that I needed to bring my dad with me when I go see Coach Mendenhall, so my dad and I went up there together."

Sitting in Coach Mendenhall's office, Latu learned how the BYU coaching staff is seeking out the top LDS athletes across the nation for a specific reason.

"It started off with Coach Mendenhall talking about the church and how it owns BYU," Latu said. "He also talked about how BYU needs good LDS athletes to represent the church and the school. Then he handed me a letter and had me read it."

Latu began reading the paper handed to him by Coach Mendenhall. He carefully read every word making sure not to miss the meaning behind the reason he was handed the paper.

"I started reading the letter," he said. "I came to the part where it says that I have received a full ride scholarship to BYU."

At that moment, Latu stopped reading. With his father sitting next to him, and Defensive Line Coach Steve Kaufusi nearby, and Coach Mendenhall behind his desk, he paused. Tears began to stream from his eyes, rolling down his cheeks. His tears of joy, an expression of deep gratitude, overtook him so much he could no longer read the letter he held in his hands.

"When I got to the part where it said I received the offer from BYU, I just started crying," Latu said humbly. "It has always been a dream of mine to go to BYU. It just hit me and it was an awesome feeling."

The dream to play football at BYU was now a reality. In his hands was the evidence that he could fulfill those dreams if he chooses to do so.

"I just really feel so blessed," said Latu. "It's really indescribable. I can't really describe how I felt."

Seeing an overwhelmed Latu unable to finish the first paragraph, Coach Mendenhall came to his rescue by asking Coach Kaufusi to step in on his behalf.

"After I broke down in tears, Coach Mendenhall asked Coach Kaufusi if he would finish reading the first paragraph," Latu said. "Then when I was good, I finished the rest."

Latu finished the article and knew BYU was a school he wanted to be at.

"Right when I finished reading the rest of the letter I looked up at Coach Mendenhall," said a solemn Hirkley Latu. "He was smiling. He knew right there that I really like BYU. I told him that I wanted to go home and talk it over with my mom, my dad, and my family. I think he already knew the connection that I was in favor of BYU already."

Latu now holds two scholarship offers, one from BYU and other from Utah. Two weeks prior to attending BYU's summer camp, Latu was home in Hawaii. He received a phone call and was asked to meet Utah's defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake at the local market in Kahuku.

"I was talking to the defensive coordinator of Utah," said Latu. "I was at home and I went and took a shower. Then they called and I was told to hurry up and get ready, so I got ready and drove over to the food market at Kahuku.

"The funny thing is I didn't know where we were going and what was going on, so I was wearing my favorite BYU shirt. I saw the Utah defensive coordinator. When he saw me wearing the BYU shirt he was shaking his head laughing. We talked for a little bit and that's when he gave me a verbal offer right there on the spot."

Kalani Sitake verbally offered Latu while at the food market, but the official written offer from Utah came two weeks later from Kyle Whittingham.

"After I got the offer from Coach Mendenhall on Tuesday that Wednesday we went to the Utah camp" recalled Latu. "That's when I got the offer from Coach Whittingham."

Having grown up a BYU fan, Latu expressed why he became so emotional upon receiving the offer from Bronco Mendenhall.

"I really like watching them and how the football team represents more than just a school but stands for higher values and the church," said Latu. "Also, when I went up to the football camp all the coaches already knew me. I've had a good relationship will all the coaches over there."

While Hirkley Latu was extremely grateful for Coach Mendenhall and the offer he extended to him, the Kahuku Red Raider is going to wait until his older brother returns home from serving a mission. Then he'll make a final decision.

"I think I'm going to wait till my brother comes back off his mission. He's serving in South Africa," Latu said. "He comes home during my senior year of football, and that would be about the time I make my decision."

Latu plans to follow in his brother's footsteps and serve a mission.

"Yeah, I plan on serving my mission right out of high school," Latu said. "I'd like to go to Tonga and learn more about my culture, but I'll go wherever Heavenly Father sends me." will continue to bring you the latest when it comes to BYU recruiting. We'll keep you updated on Hirkley Latu's recruitment and when he decides to commit to a school.

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