PROVO Petelo' Kaufusi came to America from the Tongan Islands a month before his wife and kids in the early '70s. He hoped and dreamed that somehow, some way his children would get a college education.
A humble landscaper, Petelo' had no idea how football would end up being the big ticket when his two oldest sons, Steve and Rich at South High, started it all by playing at Dixie College before transferring to BYU on full-ride scholarships.
Four other sons of Petelo' Kaufusi played at Utah.
Now, another generation of Kaufusis will take advantage of football.
Bronson Kaufusi, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound sophomore defensive end at 4A state champion Timpview, and son of BYU defensive coordinator Steve Kaufusi, announced Tuesday night he'd accepted an offer to play for the Cougars. Another prep prospect, Bingham High linebacker and fullback Iona Prichard, also committed to BYU on Tuesday.
Bronson, whom BYU is looking at as tight end, is the first BYU recruit from the class of 2010 to publicly pledge to sign. The 16-year-old sophomore, who leads Timpview in sacks this season, received an offer from BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall last week.
"I'm excited. I was both surprised and expected it," said Bronson, who got BYU coaches' attention when he attended BYU's summer camp and outperformed many older players. "I was working with the defensive guys at camp," said Steve.
"But (offensive coordinator) Robert Anae came in and told Bronco Mendenhall he wanted to hear more about Bronson."
"He's got a motor in him," said Timpview coach Louis Wong. "He's ahead of other kids because of his father and his uncles and what they've helped him with. I'd compare him to Matt Reynolds (current BYU redshirt freshman lineman) at this stage of his high school career at Timpview.
"We haven't run him at tight end in games he plays defensive end, and he's a good one."
The Kaufusi name is famous in Utah football circles. Steve and Rich played at BYU but four other Kaufusi brothers, Jeff, Jason, Doug and Henry, attended Utah. On Friday, Bronson's Thunderbirds will play Cottonwood and he'll be going up against at least five first cousins, including the son of Henry.
Petelo' Kaufusi and his wife raised eight children, plus two uncles, Pasa and Masa. All six of the Kaufusi sons, plus Pasa (Utah), earned major college scholarships.
"This is a blessing, it really is," said Steve Kaufusi. "To earn an education, to do it playing football, has been a blessing for all my family and now that my son is following in my footsteps, going to play at BYU."
Bronson's older sister, Alexis, signed to play basketball at BYU.
"My father taught me everything I know about football," said Bronson. "He's kind of funny. Sometimes he'll come up to me in the middle of the night and say, 'Hey, come here, I need to show you this move."
BYU received another pledge Tuesday morning when 6-1, 220-pound Bingham High linebacker/fullback Iona Pritchard, a senior for the 5A state champions, accepted a scholarship offer from BYU. Pritchard said BYU will look at him as a running back and linebacker. "They're keeping both options open," he said.
"It was just the place for me to be, good for me and my family," said Prichard, who has 67 tackles, 38 unassisted, for the 10-1 Miners this season. Teammates Austin Holt (tight end) and Justin Sorensen (kicker) have also committed to BYU.
Mendenhall told reporters Monday recruiting is still in the NCAA evaluation period, with no college-initiated contacts. This past week he sent the mandated seven of nine coaches out on the recruiting trail, five of them to in-state games and two on the road in California. The two games in California, however, were canceled due to wildfires. One of them at a junior college was cancelled the day of the game and his staff members returned home.
The Cougars currently have two to three scholarships available for the 2008 recruiting class after Pritchard's pledge this week, 20 for the year. The exact number depends on LDS mission plans. "We have more offers out than the three scholarships we have available," Mendenhall told reporters this week. "It's a matter of who is going to fill those three first."While Kaufusi is the first to commit from the class of 2010 for the Cougars, the first high school junior (Class of 2009) to commit to the Cougars this year was Snow Canyon running back Adam Timo, who first announced his college choice in the Deseret Morning News on May 27. Jray Gale'i, a 6-0, safety at Kahuku High in Kahuku, Haw., followed on June 20. Timpview High safety Craig Bills, a 6-2, 202 sophomore was the third from that class to commit a week after Gale'i.
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