PROVO — The status of junior wide receiver Neil Pau’u with the BYU football program is uncertain after he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence on campus earlier this month.
Pau’u, 23, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to DUI, a class B misdemeanor, and not guilty to interference with a traffic control device, a class C misdemeanor, in Provo City Justice Court, according to court documents.
A 6-foot-4, 220-pound native of Santa Ana, California, Pau’u caught 18 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown last season as a sophomore. He started in three games for the Cougars and played in 13.
“We are aware of the situation and looking into it,” said BYU football spokesman Brett Pyne.
Pau’u was arrested on the night of June 8 after he tried to drive through a road that was blocked off near the Smith Fieldhouse, according to a police affidavit.
A BYU police officer wrote in the affidavit that Pau'u drove "right next to and around my patrol vehicle with rear emergency lights on" and then "ran over" a yellow tape barricade intended to keep vehicles off of a newly paved road.
The officer reported smelling a "strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” from inside Pau’u’s Kia Cadenza. A chemical breath test revealed that Pau’u had a blood alcohol content of 0.147 percent, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.05 percent, according to the report.
Pau’u told the officer he had consumed two “jungle juice” beverages — a mixture of alcohol and a sugary drink, the affidavit states.
A message left with Pauu’s attorney, Michael J. Petro, was not immediately returned.
Pau’u is next scheduled to appear in court on July 22, about a week before BYU football players are to report for fall camp.
The Cougars open the 2019 season Aug. 29 against arch-rival Utah.
Pau’u, who has provided BYU’s receiving corps with size and athleticism, was the Cougars’ sixth-leading receiver last year.
He caught four passes for 89 yards in the spring game last March and was expected to be a significant contributor this season.
If Pau’u is not available to play in 2019, BYU’s depth and experience at wide receiver will be hampered.
In the team’s media guide released earlier this week, Pau’u was listed as a backup to Talon Shumway on the depth chart at one of the receiver positions. Pau’u was not made available during Tuesday’s BYU Football Media Day.65 comments on this story
Other receivers expected to make an impact for the Cougars this season include sophomore Gunner Romney, senior Micah Simon, senior Aleva Hifo and sophomore Dax Milne.
Pau’u graduated from Servite High in California before serving a mission to Salt Lake City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In his collegiate debut in the 2017 opener against Portland State, Pau’u caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Mangum and hauled in a 10-yard TD pass from Zach Wilson in last year’s loss at Utah.
Pau’u is the younger brother of former Cougar linebacker Butch Pau’u.