Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
BYU defensive lineman Sione Takitaki, left, celebrates a tackle during game against Portland State in Provo on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017.

PROVO — A lot of talk surrounds how marriage adversely affects a college football player's career with regards to drive and focus. But for BYU senior linebacker Sione Takitaki, he's quick to credit his marriage for most, if not all, of his football success in Provo.

The Fontana, California, native talked enthusiastically regarding his upcoming final season during media day, with the most animated remarks coming when asked about his marriage to Alyssa.

"She's an angel and she's saved me in so many ways. I got lucky," Takitaki said.

That Takitaki was even able to field questions prior to the start of this coming season is somewhat remarkable, given his rocky start for the Cougars. Suspensions marred his first two seasons, with his sophomore season in 2015 cut short after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge, among other team issues.

But those days are gone, according to the 6-foot-2, 231-pound linebacker.

The summer of 2016 saw him get married, preceding a season where he opted to redshirt and get focused for his final two years in Provo. He returned for the 2017 season and led the team in tackles-for-loss and was second only to Fred Warner in overall tackles.

All of 2017's success was aided, he says, by his union with Alyssa, someone Takitaki will continue to lean on heavily for inspiration during his final season.

"It's night and day," Takitaki said of life and his play after marriage. "Like I said, I married an angel. For a kid who had a ton of problems, like me, I needed a wife who is really religious and strong in the (LDS Church faith.) It's been a huge blessing. I now have such a strong support system at home with my wife. … You can get a lot done."

Takitaki described his single life as bouncing around and being "all over the place," which is a stark contrast to what he has now.

"I can focus my time on what's important in life," he said.

Alyssa hails from Loomis, California, and participated on the Cougars' swim team before marriage.

As for his final season, Takitaki is making the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker. It's a move both he and the coaching staff believe best suits his overall skill set and body type, although switching positions does present challenges.

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"Learning how to cover is the biggest adjustment," Takitaki said. "You have to be more aware of everything going on playing at linebacker. But covering guys is what's really going to be the big change. I mean, I was dropped into coverage at times last year, but now it's going to be more consistent."

Given his track record of adjusting, even thriving, with change, Takitaki should prove equal to the task.

"I just want to give it my all, coming off a 4-9 season," Takitaki said. "You want to leave back something better than what you take on. … I just want to give it my all with this team."