BYU football: Uona Kaveinga at peace with Cougars

Published: Monday, July 18 2011 2:00 p.m. MDT

“I really thought that I was done, that it was over after I committed to BYU,” he said. “USC though, they seriously acted like I wasn’t even committed. They started visiting my school, contacting me and my coaches almost every day after I committed to BYU, it seemed.”

During this intense recruiting by USC, BYU fans were left wondering if he would hold his commitment made to the Cougar coaching staff. Kaveinga wasn’t returning any phone calls, so there was no way to know for certain.

Many took his silence as an indication that he was ditching BYU for USC until his father relayed he would hold his commitment to the Cougars.

Shortly after that, however, it was announced that Kaveinga would make his commitment decision on Fox Sports, just days before letter-of-intent day.

So why go forward with a press conference if he was holding his commit to BYU? Was he calling it to reaffirm his decision in front of the media? Such a scenario seemed unlikely.

Sure enough, Kaveinga announced on Fox Sports that he would sign with USC. Some of his family attended the press conference with BYU hats on, and there was a bit of a dour atmosphere over the proceedings.

“A lot of my family wanted me to go to BYU, so they weren't sure of my decision,” he said. “I think in my heart I knew BYU was the best place for me, but it’s so hard to turn down coaches like Pete Carroll and Norm Chow, especially growing up where I did. Every school has so much to offer, and USC had a lot to offer me, in my mind at the time, so I just couldn’t turn them down.”

As Mendenhall related, Kaveinga could never get BYU out of his mind while he was playing for the Trojans.

“Looking back, I really don’t consider my decision to sign and then play for USC as a mistake, I really don’t,” he said. “A lot of people might say that I made a bad choice, but I don’t see it that way. I’m where I need to be now, and that is what’s important. I don’t look back at my decision and regret it. There’s nothing to regret. What’s important is that I came to realize that BYU was the best place for me, no matter how I came to know that.”

Kaveinga is firmly entrenched in the BYU football program, and although he’s yet to play a single down for the team, he’s already earned a lot of respect from his teammates.

Not only has senior veteran linebacker Jordan Pendleton not played in a game with him, he hasn’t even practiced with him yet. Despite that, he already feels a strong bond with teammate.

“I can tell just by seeing him practice and work out that we’re going to work great together,” he said. “His attitude, the way he plays, that’s exactly the guy I want to play with at middle linebacker. He brings just an intensity to the game, how can’t you respect that?”

It’s been more than a year since Kaveinga has seen action in a real football game. It’s been much longer than just that one year since he’s had the opportunity to log significant reps at middle linebacker.

As one could well imagine, he’s champing at the bit.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute here at BYU, but if I had to wait to play much longer, I don’t know if I could do it,” he said. “I love this team, I love my teammates and I love everything about BYU. Now, to get the chance to represent them on the field? That’s what it’s all about for me, and I want to do my best to represent as best I can.”

Email: bgurney@desnews.com, Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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