Filiaga Impressed With Cougar Dominance

There were many BYU recruits on hand at LaVell Edwards Stadium to watch the Cougars shut out the Bruins 59-0. One of those recruits was Bingham linebacker L.T. Filiaga.

Ranked as the nation's 23rd best linebacker recruit by Scout, L.T. Filiaga's worth to the Cougar coaching staff is more than just his ability to play football. Aside from needed top linebacker prospects to fill the ranks of a soon to be depleted corps, the 3.8 GPA student and future missionary is exactly the type of character football player that Coach Mendenhall and his staff want representing the program and college institution.

This Saturday, Filiaga was on hand to see the Cougars hand the Bruins their worse loss since 1929.

"That was a really fun game," said Filiaga with excitement. "What impressed me the most was the way [BYU] got after it on both sides of the ball. When bad things happened it looked like they just cleared that from their minds and played like it never happened. They just kept moving forward. They played their backup players in the third and fourth quarters and they still shut them out 59-0. Man, that was a good game."

Filiaga was surprised that the Bruins came to Provo and weren't able to score a single point after beating a ranked Tennessee team.

"When I came to the game I was expecting so much more from what I saw from UCLA," said Filiaga with a chuckle. "I thought it was going to be a real challenge because Coach Norm Chow and his past relationship with BYU. When I saw them play I was amazed at how BYU handled UCLA that day."

While watching the dominating performance of the Cougars, Filiaga remembered the principle-driven words of Coach Mendenhall, and they resonated strongly with him.

"I realized while I was watching the game what Coach Mendenhall had been saying about the football team," said Filiaga. "The first priority isn't about football, it's more on how people act and become better people. The football team was beating UCLA badly, but the main priority isn't about football. I just thought that was incredible seeing how well they played."

The Cougars put up more than 500 yards of offense. Quarterback Max Hall tied or set several records for the school and the conference, and surpassed some legendary BYU quarterbacks with some of his statistics.

"My overall impressions were I couldn't believe what happened to UCLA," said Filiaga. "Growing up I actually admired UCLA and USC being a great rivalry. You know, just having higher expectations of UCLA and seeing what they did that day with BYU shutting them out was really cool.

"It was really cool because BYU has had some down years since beating [No. 1 ranked] Miami. It was really cool to see them beat UCLA and I believe they're on the right road to going to the top. They're ranked really high and, wow, that's just really great."

Aside from seeing the Cougars' performance against a Pac-10 team, Filiga was also very excited to see his close friend and former high school teammate Iona Pritchard play as a true freshman.

"It was really cool to see Iona get in and get some playing time," said Filiaga. "I was like, ‘Oh man, that is really cool!' I was like, ‘Oh man, I played with that guy!' I thought that was a nice play when he caught the pass out of the backfield, and even though he didn't get a lot of yards, I thought it was cool to see him play. It was nice to see him run a few plays on the offense and defense. He's a hard worker and I bet he deserved every minute that he played. It was really cool."

Filaga wasn't surprised that Pritchard got to see the field so early in his college career. While playing alongside Pritchard as a middle linebacker back at Bingham High School, Filiaga saw firsthand how hard he works and how coachable he is.

"What I know about Iona is he's an honest player," Filiaga said. "When the coaches ask him to do something, he'll do it. I've never seen him practice at BYU, but when Coach Peck [from Bingham High School] would ask him to do something, he would do it. He's very coachable and understands the game. He's a hard worker and I know what playing time he got he deserved. I'm really proud of him and really happy for him."

When Filiaga saw Pritchard take the field against UCLA, the thought of that possibly being him one day entered his mind.

"When I saw Iona go in I thought, ‘Oh man, that is so cool!'" said Filiaga. "It just took me back to when we played together last year in the middle and it was so fun together. I actually thought that if I was there at BYU, and we were playing together in the middle having the same relationship we had while at Bingham, it would be really good.

"It's just a lot different playing middle linebacker now here, and I'm not saying that our middle linebacker that's playing with me now is bad, but it's not the same and I don't feel the same playing without Iona. It was really good playing with Iona and I really miss it, and when I saw him go in I thought, ‘What if that was me?' BYU is a good place to go to and I didn't let it get too far over my head."

Seeing Pritchard receive playing time against the UCLA Bruins has only helped inspire him.

"It actually encourages me and motivates me to do better," Filiaga said. "I know [how] Iona works and how much effort he makes to be better. I know what he does, and if I can do what he did, than I know I can maybe do what he did."

Filiaga knows that it takes a unique athlete with unique character qualities to attend and thrive within BYU's program.

"If I go to BYU, I know that I would be able to raise my standards and live to a higher and better level than what I am right now," said Filiaga. "I'm not saying that I have low standards right now, but what I'm saying is BYU is at another level of greatness. To go to BYU as a student or athlete, you'll come out of there a better person no matter what."

Throughout his young life, Filiaga has worked hard with the goal in mind of one day attending a top football program. With seven scholarship offers to date, including one from BYU, he is beginning to feel that he indeed will have that opportunity.

"It's pretty exciting because I've always wondered what it would be like to be recruited by the top colleges and programs in the nation like Ohio State," said Filiaga. "Now I am because BYU is rising to the top and I'm very fortunate to have one of their offers. BYU is a top team and people in my position are going to be wishing they had an offer from BYU and [that BYU] would recruit them. I'm really honored to have this offer and I'm very grateful for it."

Filiaga said that both BYU and Utah could compete against some of the top college programs in the country.

"I believe BYU is a top team," Filiaga continued. "And I also believe Utah can compete against some of the top teams as well. Utah beat Michigan and BYU keeps beating Pac-10 teams. I know these two programs can compete against some of the top colleges in the nation. I think they're a little underrated."

As for a recruiting trip, Filiaga has plans to attend BYU down the road.

"I actually talked with Coach Doman and we set up a recruiting trip for me to come out there in January," Filiaga said. "So I'm really looking forward to that and having fun with some of the BYU football players and everything."


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