Maka'afi commits to BYU

For Peni Maka'afi, it was never a matter of if, but when. The 5-foot-10.5, 215-pound running back prospect from Northridge High in Layton, Utah just didn't dream that things would happen so quickly. And after a whirlwind week of camping and competing, his dream did come true.

As first reported by Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune Saturday, Maka'afi verbally committed to Bronco Mendenhall and BYU over offers from Utah State and Weber State.

Last weekend, Maka'afi attended Utah State's camp and was offered a few days after. Then he went to Boise State's camp. "That was a cool camp, but there were so many teams there," Maka'afi told on Monday. He never received any feedback from the Boise State coaches as to whether or not they were planning on offering him or even if they were going to continue to recruit him.

After one day of his team camp in Layton, Maka'afi went to one day of camp at BYU, and then back to his team camp. This wasn't the first time Maka'afi, who is Mormon, had been to Provo.

"When I figured out that BYU was interested in me, I visited a few times," he said. "They said that they really liked me and that they wanted me to take care of things. They had requirements for me that I needed to achieve to build trust. Over time I accomplished all the goals they had for me."

In the middle of the week Northridge scrimmaged at Weber State and then scrimmaged at Woods Cross on Friday. Then on Saturday Maka'afi and teammate Chris Washington were offered after BYU's 7-7 tournament. Northridge made it to the championship game, only to lose to Bingham. But Maka'afi didn't leave Provo thinking about second place. Those thoughts were quickly washed away when he was offered a much bigger prize.

"Coach Mendenhall presented the offers to Chris and I at the same time, and then spoke to each of us individually," Maka'afi said. "Chris went in first and then I went in. That's when he asked me and that's when I decided to commit."

Maka'afi has his thoughts on why the offer came so suddenly. "To my understanding, they (BYU coaches) believe I'm a complete back," he said. "Not only can I run and catch, but I can also block too. I understand the offensive scheme too. I guess you could say that I'm a mix of Curtis Brown, Fui (Vakapuna) and Manase (Tonga). I can block pretty well, and when the time comes I can run and catch when they need to."

Maka'afi ran 103 times for 890 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior.

And what about Chris Washington, his teammate? "I think Chris just wanted to keep his options open, and that's what he did," Maka'afi said. "But I think he's close to committing too. Being able to play three years in high school and then in college would make the comfort level even higher."

There was no doubt Maka'afi was headed to Provo if offered. "It's a balanced school," he said. "They don't only focus on the kid's success in football or in school. It's balanced with faith, academics, football and good people. And that's what I like.

"They were always my No. 1 choice, but I never thought that they would offer me this early. I was thinking when they did I would want to commit there because it's a place that I want to be."

Maka'afi is not planning on serving his mission at this time, and hasn't completely closed the door on other opportunities. But expect that door to be firmly shut when he signs his letter of intent with BYU in February.

"It would be great to get other offers from schools, but I'm pretty sure I'm 100 percent committed to BYU," he said.

In the meantime, Maka'afi is going to take some well-earned time off. "I finally get to rest this week," he said with a chuckle. And when he's resting, he can daydream about a possible Northridge-Bingham rematch.

Could a battle this fall between the two 5A schools be far behind? "I could see it happening," Maka'afi said.

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