Returned Mormon missionaries in sports garner national attention

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28 2013 12:55 p.m. MST

A pair of returned Mormon missionaries were recently featured in the national media.

Tyler Haws, a shooting guard for the BYU Cougars, was the subject of an article by Anna Katherine Clemmons on ESPN.com Thursday.

Xavier Su'a-Filo, an offensive lineman for the UCLA Bruins, was part of a Feb. 25 article posted by Andy Staples on sportsillustrated.cnn.com.

Both articles mention how Haws and Su'a-Filo served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after playing one year at their respective schools.

The 6-foot-5 Haws served in Quezon City, Philippines, before returning to BYU to lead the West Coast Conference this season in points per game (20.9), which is ninth in the nation.

His success is partially due to diligent exercise and a healthy lifestyle. During his last six months as a missionary, Haws awoke early and maintained a simple exercise routine, but didn't play basketball. When he returned home last April, Haws increased his routine, and started shooting again.

In the SI.com article, Staples wrote that Su'a-Filo started 13 games at left tackle as a freshman in 2009, but then he left Los Angeles to serve a mission in Florida. He returned to UCLA "to find a new head coach (Jim Mora), a radically different offense and a new mentality."

The former Timpview High lineman started 14 games at left guard last season, but felt like a freshman again.

"It was tough. We had our bumps," Su'a-Filo told Staples. "Especially me. I considered myself a young guy because I hadn't played for two years."

Eventually he found his groove. At one point during the USC game, Su'a-Filo realized he'd pulled on three consecutive plays and realized how well conditioned he had gotten playing in UCLA's no-huddle offense. As Trojans' defenders gasped for breath, Su'a-Filo was ready for another play.

Now he's excited for the 2013 season.

"That's what we're anxious about," Su'a-Filo said in the article. "Waiting to get out there and see how explosive this offense can be."

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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