It seems like yesterday that Cougar fans were celebrating the commitment of Carlsbad High School tight end and linebacker Vic So'oto, who spurned offers from programs like Arizona, Oregon, Nebraska and Washington State to come to BYU. His Cougar career has taken him to both sides of the ball.
He dedicated his first touchdown reception to his uncle Wally Molifua, a former BYU offensive lineman who – before passing away – played a big part in So'oto choosing BYU. And although nagging injuries often sidelined So'oto, he doesn’t regret becoming a Cougar.
"No, I wouldn't trade my experience here for any other place," So'oto said with a laugh. "I don't think I would have become that man if I had gone to, say, Nebraska or any other college for that matter. It's been a very positive experience for me being here and I've grown because of it. There have been a lot of ups and down for me over the years, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
"It's been kind of an interesting season with how it started and how far we've come," So'oto continued. "We've gone through a lot of ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Here is where I've met my wife Ashley, and I wouldn't change that for anything else."
So, it would be safe to say that even after So'oto takes off his pads and helmet one last time, he'll never be able to shed the blue from his heart.
"Oh, of course!" So’oto quickly said after being asked that. "The first day that I stepped foot on this campus and the first practice of my first fall camp I've bled blue all the way through, and I'll bleed blue until I die."
So'oto will miss the experiences he's had both on the team and within the community.
"I think more than the wins and losses, it's more the relationships you build," So'oto said. "People you get to meet within the community and the relationships and bonds that are created with your teammates is something hard to explain.
"It's really different here than anywhere else. You do more here than just play football and more is expected of you, and I think that helps add to the experience and the quality of relationships that are made here. You do a lot of things as a team like firesides before games and doing service projects before games.
"Then Friday night we're fighting a team on the field and then the next day we're doing service. It's been a learning experience for me and I've grown up a lot. I'm working with the young men in my ward and more of a mentor to them. I like taking young kids under my wing and trying to be that example now."
Last Saturday So'oto played his last game in LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"Yeah it definitely hit me when I realized this was it," he said. "I think it kind of hit me my last game playing in LaVell Edwards Stadium. It really hit me after Coach Mendenhall's play-for-the-seniors talk. He said, 'Play for the seniors and for the things they've done and let them go out of this stadium with a win.' I kind of got emotional with all the families out there. It was definitely a sad moment for me, but at the same time I'm now excited because my last game is against Utah. It's kind of weird. It's sort of bittersweet."
Make no bones about it, when So'oto suits up in his Cougar jersey for his last chance to represent his family, fans and faith, the Terminator – a nickname given to him by Coach Tidwell his freshman year – will give it all he's got.
"I try to go into every game with the same amount of intensity, but the BYU versus Utah game is a little different," So'oto said. "It's fun. There are some guys that talk trash but not a lot of them, but there's always one or two that always talks smack. You know it's just all part of the game."
So'oto has been a part of a Cougar program that has won more often than not when playing Utah.
"You know, it's really special," said a somber So'oto. "Over the past couple of years, I've had the chance to watch some of our guys be successful against Utah and see what it does to people in the community. You know, you see families get all jacked up and ready to go out for a football game and it's been fun and exciting. It's been a good ride and a fitting way to end my career here at BYU. I feel like I'll be going out on top no matter what happens."