They’ll all be at the game. It’s the first time we’ve played that close to Annapolis. It’s something that when I saw it coming up on the schedule, I was super excited for it. —Va’a Niumatalolo
LANDOVER, Maryland — BYU junior linebacker Va’a Niumatalolo has been looking forward to this game against West Virginia for a long time.
That’s because this is a homecoming of sorts for the junior from Annapolis, Maryland, not far from where the Cougars and Mountaineers will meet at FedEx Field.
Niumatalolo’s family lives in Annapolis because his dad, Ken, is the head coach at Navy. And it so happens that the Midshipmen have a bye Saturday.
“I’m really excited to go back home and see my family,” Va’a said. “They’ll all be at the game. It’s the first time we’ve played that close to Annapolis. It’s something that when I saw it coming up on the schedule, I was super excited for it.”
Ken Niumatalolo was a candidate to replace Bronco Mendenhall as BYU’s head coach before Kalani Sitake was hired. Niumatalolo is in his 10th year as the head coach at Navy. The Midshipmen are 3-0 this season.
Because they both have hectic schedules, one as a coach and one as a player on different teams, it can be tough for Ken and Va'a to keep in contact during the season.
“On Sundays, we drive to my wife’s family’s house in South Jordan,” Va’a said. “During that time, we talk on the phone on the way up. Sunday’s the day to talk to my mom and dad.”
On Saturday, the Niumatalolos will all be at the same stadium, which doesn’t happen often.
NFL STADIUMS: This marks the second time this season BYU will play at an NFL stadium. On Sept. 3, the Cougars played Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. Saturday, BYU takes on West Virginia at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a cool venue,” said Cougar defensive lineman Sae Tautu. “Most of us dream of playing at the next level so it’s a fun to be in a place like that, knowing you’re walking where some of the greatest have walked.”