BYU is showing some early interest in a few Tongan prospects out of the state of Texas for the 2012 recruiting class. One is a 6-foot-3-inch, 275-pound junior-to-be out of Trinity High School that has already been to Provo to attend BYU's summer camp and tour the campus.
His name is Hiva Lutui – cousin of Arizona Cardinal offensive guard Deuce Lutui – and he started for the Trojans during his sophomore year in 5-A Texas football.
“I was kind of new to the whole high school football thing, so I didn't start off and play as well as I can play now,” said Lutui. “As I got more experience I got more used to playing and things started coming to me."
Lutui said he expects to carry the momentum he gained over the course of last season with him as the new season approaches.
"Now that things are easier for me I think I should be playing at my highest level right now," said Lutui. "I expect to do really well next year and I'm preparing myself for that."
Although young, Lutui is a student of the sport.
"I put a lot of time in watching film because I want to know everything that is happening on the field," he said. "I want to know what everybody is doing so I can have a high IQ on the line. I want to know what I'm doing so I can play faster than any defensive lineman. There's a lot that goes into being a good offensive lineman, and it's not just going in there and blocking a certain person. There's more to it than that."
Lutui was on BYU's campus over the summer for the BYU camp. While in attendance, he caught the eye of one Cougar coach in particular.
"We ran some drills and stuff that BYU runs during their practices," Lutui said. "A lot of the coaches ran drills that they run through their practices so they can see and evaluate you and see if you're good enough to play for them one day.
"I did a lot of individual training over there with Coach Weber. I guess he saw a lot of potential in me and he took me and two other players with him. He was giving us good one-on-one demonstrations that can help improve our game. The coaches are really good up there. They really handled things professionally."
Lutui established a good relationship with Weber, and even received a compliment from him that got him excited about BYU.
"He just kept on telling me that he already lost one Lutui in Deuce and he didn't want to lose another one," Lutui said with a laugh. "He said he wants to keep a hold of me. I was thinking he must really want me and didn't want to miss out on another opportunity. It made me feel blessed like I could actually mean something to the program. Whenever someone like that gives me the compliments that I was given, especially from someone from BYU, it really makes you feel privileged to meet with them and everything."
While working with Weber, Lutui was able to see two different sides of BYU's offensive line coach.
"He's a cool guy off the field, but when it comes to preparation he wants you to take it very seriously," said Lutui. "He wants you at your best and that's one of the main things that I liked about him. It was really cool to see a coach be like that. You don't really see coaches where you feel you could go and hang out with him off the field. Some coaches you don't have that feeling because they make you feel like they need to punish you all the time, but with him it wasn't that way, but know when it's time to play he wants you to be your best. "
Lutui, a member of the Methodist faith, was able to tour BYU’s campus and get a good feel for the people that attend the university. He enjoyed the environment and learned a lot about what the school has to offer.
"I didn't really know much about BYU, but I know they're always up there and one of the tops in academics and their football program and everything," Lutui said. "Academics is one of my main things and I know they've got really good academics at BYU. I just think it was a great experience and got to know a little more about college life there. They've got great facilities and the whole BYU campus was a nice thing to experience. It's one of the nicest campuses I've seen in real life before …
"When I was there they took me on a tour around the campus and I got to meet a lot of people. They showed us around the campus and all the different things. It really seemed like the people there all had really good character and gave out a good positive vibe. They were the type of people that you would want to hang out with. It just didn’t seem like it was a school where there was a lot of trouble. That's why I really liked it there and they take their academics really seriously.”
Among the sights that Lutui was able to see was BYU’s new three-story, 100,000-square-foot broadcasting building.
“They showed us the broadcasting department and supposedly they're number two in the nation right now," Lutui said. "It was really nice. They also showed us the law school and their business school, and I learned about the different things about the school that you can do over there."
Lutui was also impressed by the overall state of the campus.
"I was really impressed by how clean everything was and how clean the campus was. The people that were giving us the tour kept telling us to check the bathrooms. They told us that there would be no graffiti or anything. Every bathroom was clean and there was no writing on the walls or anything. It was the same with the people over there. Everybody likes to look clean and it really gave a good vibe to the campus. Everyone was really nice."
Following his visit to school, Lutui is interested in what BYU has to offer. In fact, he said that BYU is currently one of his top five schools.
"I just really liked how they run everything over there and like what I could get academically from that school. I know I could get a good degree for a good job to fall back on if I don't make it in the NFL. I also know it would be a good place to be that would be a good influence on me and that would help me with my future family. I'm also looking for a school that will keep me out of trouble. There are a lot of bad influences out there that you can get hooked on."
Lutui is being recruited by the likes of Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU and BYU. Though he referred to a personal top five in regards to favorite schools, he likes some other schools as well. In addition to BYU, he said he likes UCLA, Cal, Michigan, Texas A&M and Florida State.