SALT LAKE CITY — Utah received a commitment on Thursday from Cottonwood’s Siale Havili Fakailoatonga. After strongly considering offers from both BYU and Utah, the 6-4, 230 tight-end prospect just felt more at home up north.
“Utah is just a better fit for me than BYU,” he said. “I love the family atmosphere at Utah, and I love the coaches. I didn’t think I’d commit this early, but I just decided that Utah was the best fit for me in every way.”
Most prospects make themselves known after coaches pour over playing tapes or at the very least witness them during a padded camp. For Utah’s latest commit, he just had to show up during an offseason 7-on-7 tournament.
His first 7-on-7 tournament was at BYU, where coaches quickly made an offer after seeing him perform. A little later, he did the same up at Utah with the same result.
“I really wasn’t expecting both offers,” recalled Fakailoatonga. “It was great, and I was real honored by both of the offers and by my Utah State offer too.”
BYU was the school he was leaning toward initially, given its strong tight-end tradition and the fact that his mother attended school there. After a while, however, he grew to feel more at home with the Ute coaching staff.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but they just seem to relate more to me than the BYU coaches,” he said. “I really like and respect BYU’s coaches, but I really didn’t feel the same connection with them that I did with Utah’s. I felt like through all our conversations that Utah's coaches understood me better and understood my goals more than BYU’s.”
Fakailoatonga's goals include pursuing a masters degree in engineering while making a bid to play in the NFL. He previously held plans to serve a mission, but wants to now concentrate fully on first his education and then on playing football.
He’ll play tight end while at Utah fully aware that BYU has a much richer history with its tight ends.
“That was the big thing at first, but after talking to Brian Johnson, he let me know that tight end will be a focus in his offense,” said Fakailoatonga. “He explained to me how he’d use me, and it really got me excited. I’m very excited to be part of Utah’s football tradition and their future.”
He’s also excited to get some of his teammates up to Utah with him. Several of his teammates already have offers in hand, including quarterback Cooper Bateman and offensive linemen Lo Falemaka and Elijah Tupai.
“Oh, I’ll be working on all those guys from now until we sign,” assured Fakailoatonga. “I know that they’re all interested, and it would be great if we could all play at Utah together. A big reason why I committed to Utah is because it’s like family, and I feel like family with all my teammates. So I want us to stay together.”