When it came time to make his college decision, Mufi Hunt turned to two of the things he knows best: God and family. And together as a family, the Hunts all turned to God as the Salt Lake City (Utah) Taylorsville defensive end sought the best place for him.
”We prayed and fasted together and then we made our decision together,” Hunt said.
The prayer and fasting came in two cycles, starting when he got back from a visit to BYU. From Sunday night to Monday was the first, while the second came Tuesday. The final decision was clear when signing day rolled around for the 6-foot-6, 215-pound defensive end when he, his parents and his brother, 15-year-old Ammon came together.
“We would pray and fast then come back together at the end of the day and count to three and blurt out the school we felt was best for us,” he said. “The spirit told us and it ultimately came to Michigan State.
”We prayed and fasted twice and it came to Michigan State both times. It was pretty awesome.”
Hunt announced his decision Wednesday, as he picked the Spartans over BYU, Oregon State and other offers. He said Michigan State was the best fit for him overall.
”I thought everything when I came on visit felt right,” he said. “The people were nice. The football was top notch. The way they care of those student athletes in the academic way is pretty amazing, too.
”I thought it was the total package and they let me go on the mission, which is a plus, too. It was just the perfect fit.”
Before Hunt arrives on campus in East Lansing, he will spend two years on a Mormon mission. He does not know where he will be sent yet - he hopes for New Zealand or Samoa - but plans to finish his paperwork in the coming weeks and figures to know a couple weeks after that.
He had the choice to wait to fulfill his mission, but elected to do so now so he would have an uninterrupted college career at Michigan State.
“I didn’t really want to have that distraction of playing a year and then leaving right in the middle of my college years,” he said. “I wanted to go, not necessarily get it over with, but have it done so when I come back all I can focus on is school and football and go straight through four years.”
Part of the challenge of being away – potentially internationally – for two years will be staying in shape for college football, while also trying to add weight and strength for his arrival in 2017. The daily structure on a mission allots time for exercise and physical activity.
Hunt, who is half Samoan and half Tongan, said he feels confident he will gain “healthy weight” with the assistance of his family, as well as MSU strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie.
”I am going to make sure I stay in shape because when I get back I want to do whatever I can do to help the team out the most,” he said. “I’m not trying to come back and be sloppy.”
The upside and growth potential of the two-year trip is something very much apparent for Hunt as well. He will arrive as a 20-year-old, with more physical, emotional, mental and spiritual maturity. He also will be more accustomed to being away from home.
”It is going to be great for me, personally, because on my mission I will be gone for two years away from home,” he said. “That will prepare me for being away from home for four years. I’m really excited.
”I just feel like from here on, it can only go up from where I’m at right now.”
When he comes to East Lansing, the plan will be to major in English because of a love for writing – “You can make it your own because it’s your own style” – and pre-law. The plan on the field will be for him to bring the speed he knows is his current strength. But the power, he plans on that coming with time.
”I pride myself in the way I get off and use my speed just because I’m not strong yet in my upper body, so I have to make up for it in my speed,” Hunt said. “To Michigan State, I can bring my speed and power eventually with Coach Mannie with strength and conditioning workouts.”
And down the road, he hopes to open up a pipeline of both players from Utah and Polynesian players.
”It would be cool to start a Polynesian pipeline and get some kids here in Utah looking toward Michigan State and the Big Ten,” he said. “Honestly, I think we are so used to just seeing Pac-12 and Mountain West football played that we don’t really expand out and really take to what is out there and see what is out there.
”I feel like when I got the chance to see Michigan State, it was awesome. It was definitely something cool and I felt like Michigan State could help me.”