USU football: junior college transfer and in-state product proud to be an Aggie

By Megan Allen

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 18 2012 1:16 p.m. MDT

For some people, it is easy to describe what it means to be a part of their team and university. To Utah State senior defensive lineman Al Lapuaho, being an Aggie is everything.

While it took him awhile to get to this point, he sees the influence it has had on his life and the impact he wants it to continue to create.

“It means a lot to be an Aggie. I’m going to grow up and be able to tell my kids ‘You know, I was the first generation to get that new field, the new uniforms, the new logo. I wore it first,’” Lapuaho said. “I have seven brothers below me that I want to become Aggies. They’re still young and can do that. It means a lot to me and them.”

Lapuaho said a huge part of his love for Utah State stems from the recent success of the team, and the drive they continue to have together.

“The Aggies are coming up,” Lapuaho said. “It means the world to me to be a part of this.”

Lapuaho played prep football at Granger High School in West Valley City, Utah, where he was a four-year letterman and earned second-team all-state honors as a senior. Upon graduation, he had offers to play at Snow College and Southern Utah University.

He selected Snow but only because he hadn’t ever heard much from Utah State, the school he really wanted to attend.

After his freshman year at Snow, he received an offer from Washington State, which he accepted. However, just couple of weeks before he was supposed to move to Pullman, he decided he didn’t feel right about the decision and returned to Snow.

“It made my coach mad,” Lapuaho said. “But then he asked me what school I wanted to go to, and I said Utah State.”

So, his coach went to work and made it happen.

“I met with the USU coaches at our Scottsdale game that year,” Lapuaho said. “I played a good game and after that, coach Andersen gave me an offer.”

Lapuaho came to Utah State in 2011 as a junior and immediately took his place. Though he was a part of the starting lineup by the first game at Auburn, that wasn’t the case when he showed up for camp.

“I knew I’d be starting at the bottom coming in here, so I wanted to do anything I could to get to the top,” Lapuaho said. “I came in as the second-string end and saw that we needed a nose guard so I told the coaches I was willing to play that. I wanted to be a starter. By the time the Auburn game came, I was starting at nose, and now I’m back at end.”

Defensive line coach Frank Maile said Lapuaho is a necessary part of the team.

“You’ve got to have a guy like Al. He’s a great personality both on and off the field,” Maile said. “We love having him as part of our group of the defensive line.”

While many members of the Utah State football team are very vocal and quick to accept their status as a leader, Lapuaho tends to shy away from the title, while still taking on the responsibility.

“I guess you can say I’m a leader,” Lapuaho said. “I came in last year and played every game. I know the ins and outs. I know how it is in a game. I’ve seen what it takes and I think people see that. Hopefully I can do it this year again.”

Maile said other members of the team definitely see Lapuaho as a leader, but that he doesn’t always see the extent in which he is admired.

“A lot of the guys look up to him as an older guy and a starter. I just wish he would take more advantage of them looking to him,” Maile said. “He has a roundabout way of leading by example.”

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