Anthony Moeaki did not wait for BYU to start recruiting him despite the fact most Big Ten colleges have already offered scholarships. When he visited Utah last year to watch his cousin play for Skyline High in the state championship game, he called on BYU coaches and initiated the recruiting process himself.
"I stopped by at BYU to talk to BYU coach (Mike) Empey and coach (Gary) Crowton," Moeaki said. "A couple of months later, they started sending me stuff."
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound athlete runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash and is considered the top tight end prospect in Illinois.
"I have scholarship offers from BYU, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Kentucky, Iowa State and my coach said that UCLA, Georgia Tech and Louisville will be offering me a scholarship pretty soon," Moeaki said.
BYU will be a favorite. "They will be in my top five, definitely," Moeaki said. "Of course, my parents want me to go there and so do my brothers."
Moeaki, a senior this fall at South Warrenville High School in Wheaton, Ill., is also getting plenty of recruiting attention from Nebraska and Notre Dame. "(Notre Dame defensive line coach Greg Mattison) sends me a lot of handwritten letters," Moeaki told IrishEyes.com, an independent Notre Dame sports website. "I'm very interested in Notre Dame. I wanted to go there for their junior day on April 3, but I'm taking the ACT. I've been there before when I was little. I loved the place. It's a great atmosphere."
Illinois and Iowa were the first colleges to offer and he has attended "Junior Day" at Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. He wants to attend Notre Dame's camp and will attend NIKE Camps in Iowa and either Oregon or Washington this summer.
However, if anyone has the inside track to land Moeaki, it's BYU. His family members are active Latter-day Saints members and his older brother, Larry Moeaki, currently attends BYU while another brother was a former Cougar gridiron player under LaVell Edwards.
Moeaki flew into Salt Lake City last week to visit his sister and her kids at their Magna home and expected to make an unofficial visit to BYU.
Currently, Moeaki has a 2.5 grade-point average in his core classes, adding that academics is an important consideration in his college choice. Moeaki said an LDS mission is something that could be in his future plans. "If I go to BYU, I'll definitely go on one," he said.
The Moeaki family, originally from Tonga, initially moved to Utah from Hawaii, but relocated some years ago to Wheaton.
The road to becoming an early top national prospect has not been an easy one for Moeaki. After an injury setback his sophomore year, he made waves in the state of Illinois last season.
"I was on varsity my sophomore year, but I didn't do well because I had a cast on my broken hand," Moeaki said. "That's why no one really new anything about me. In my junior year, I led my team in receiving even though we ran the ball most of the time. We went 8-4 and went to the quarterfinals, but lost to the state champs by a touchdown."
Moeaki ended his junior season as the top tight end prospect in Illinois. "I had 23 catches for 405 yards and three touchdowns and I was first-team all-conference and first-team all-area," he said.
"I played tight end, but my coach wouldn't let me play defense last year," Moeaki added. "He's going to let me play defense this year, though."
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