It's been a while since Teu Kautai strapped on a football helmet and hit someone, but that's exactly what he plans on doing once he gets back to BYU.
"I plan on heading back to BYU this Saturday," Kautai said. "Right now I'm at 215 pounds, and I'm working out with my trainer at Velocity Performance with speed training and conditioning. Right now I'm just working on my speed doing sprints, pulling sleds and doing multi acceleration and directional things.
"I just want to try and get my strength up so I can be able to hold up against those big ol’ offensive linemen. Coming out, I was pretty strong when I played at Oakridge High School. I've been off for a whole year and now I'm coming up to the D-I level, so my goal right now is be in as good enough shape as I can be when I get up there so I can deal with those big o-linemen."
Prior to coming back home to train in Texas, Kautai had a meeting with the Cougar coaching staff.
“They want me to switch to outside linebacker, and Coach Poppinga is the one that wanted me to play under him. He was the one that recruited me during Junior Day. It was him and Coach Howell, so Coach Poppinga had been asking for me because I was talking to Coach Tidwell.
"Coach Tidwell asked me if it would be okay if I go to outside linebacker, and I told him that's fine. They kind of left it up to me and I told them I was fine with that. Being under Coach Poppinga, he's a great man. He's a good coach and knows what to do and knows how to play the game. He's played in the NFL and was a dominant player at the college level. There's no better coach than Coach Poppinga that I could be under."
Though not sure if he'll play the boundary or field side, Kautai does feel he'll bring speed to the position.
"I'll bring quickness to the outside position and an outside rush," Kautai said. "I was never able to do that in high school because our coaches needed me on the inside, so I think I can bring that quickness off the edge and that's what they're looking at."
Although Kautai played at Oakridge High School, he's very close to Trinity Cougar prospects Hiva Lutui (12th ranked offensive guard in the country) and Ilaiu Moeakiola, who was named one of the top up-and-coming athletes in his region.
"You know what, I've always been close to those two," Kautai said. "I can kind of help them with what to expect when it comes to their senior years and in the recruiting process with the scholarships they have. I talk to them every now and then, and I just talked to Hiva recently. He was telling me that he's not giving up and that he really likes BYU. It was the same for Ilaiu, and he's hoping that BYU comes calling for him.
"We always get together and talk about how it would be cool for all three of us to go up there, and I could be their mentor and play football together. They know a lot of people up there already like Ross [Apo] and Manaaki Vaitai, who used to play at Trinity. They really do like BYU and are just waiting to see what happens.
“They've been up to BYU before with me and been to camps. They just really like it up there and know there are a lot of benefits kids like them can have by going to a school like BYU. There's just a lot of benefits, and they know it and that's why they're hoping. I know Coach Weber's been talking to them and they just have to get down to BYU for the Junior Day. I'm trying to get them down there. They have to get down there, so I'm working on that."
Lutui and Moeakiola aren't LDS but come from strong Methodist families, and both are related to Cougar players that have been or are on the team. Moeakiola is related to Ross Apo through his mother's side of the family, and Lutui is Fui Vakapuna’s second cousin through his mother's side of the family. Moeakiola is also closely related to former Cougar fullback Manase Tonga as well.
One prospect that BYU is taking a close look at from Trinity High School is Teu Kautai's younger brother Lahi, who will be the starting quarterback for Trinity this year.
"Yeah, they should be good and Trinity always does good," Kautai said. "It's just the fact of spreading the ball out and letting Lahi go to the pass and then to the run."
Like his older brother, Lahi plays different positions when needed. He's more of an athlete playing the quarterback position, much like Jray Galea'i did for Kahuku High School before he came to BYU.
"Yeah, the Trinity coaches move him around a lot," Kautai said about his younger brother. "They'll move him to running back or to receiver, and he basically does the whole thing. Trinity has been practicing a lot [with] the speed option this year with him at quarterback. They want to get him out in space and give him the option of either holding onto the ball or pitching it out.
"So, he'll be the starting quarterback for Trinity this year, but I think BYU is looking at Lahi for either the slot receiver position or at the running back position. He's working on his speed and he's a really good athlete. He's a little smaller than I am at around 5’10” and around 185 pounds, but he'll be coming out to Junior Day this June and we'll see how that goes.”
Later this week, Teu Kautai will fly out to BYU so he can prepare himself for voluntary summer workouts.
"I'm really excited, and coming back, I've just had the mindset of getting back in school and just start playing football again," he said. "It's going to be weird putting on the helmet this fall being out of it for a whole year. I'm really looking forward to it and know what to expect.
"I was out there for the first week of spring camp and watched their practice. I watched the whole first week of spring ball and I think I'm ready to get out there and get some experience. I'm excited to get out there with Uona [Kaveinga] and run around out there with the other linebackers. Uona is an animal and was one of the guys that I hung out with when I was there, so I'm ready to get back out there with the boys and get going. I'm excited."