Cougar defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi recently flew out to Hawaii's second-largest island to visit Baldwin High School. While there, he was able to meet and speak with Baldwin multi-sport athlete Pasoni Tasini.
"The BYU coach was the third coach I talked to, because [BYU] found out I was interested in going there," Tasini said. "A coach [Kaufusi] came out and visited me one time and we talked about things. Then he came back out and visited me again."
The 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound Tasini, who is of Tongan, Samoan, Italian and German ancestry, holds Kaufusi – who once served a mission to the islands of Tonga – in high esteem.
"Coach Kaufusi is a really cool guy and knows where I'm coming from," Tasini said. "He understands the whole mission thing and I relate really well to him. I want to serve a mission right after high school, and BYU holds the same standards as my Church does."
Tasini also holds the institution of BYU in high esteem.
"That's one thing I really like about BYU: it's a Mormon school," said Tasini. "BYU is in Utah, so moving to Utah – and I talked to my mom and dad about this – would be a good move because it's basically the Mormon capital. I've also heard that BYU has a very nice campus. I haven't seen it yet but I'm really looking forward to doing that. I also know BYU has a very high standard for academics too. It's no easy thing getting into BYU."
Tasini was selected as the 2010-11 Maui Interscholastic League Athlete of the year. He won league crowns in the shotput and discus, and plays basketball and volleyball as well. He reportedly put up some impressive numbers at the Maui Football Combine at Lahainaluna.
"My max bench is 315 pounds and I squatted 405," Tasini said. "My power clean is 275 and I'm trying to get stronger."
He reportedly benched 225 pounds 25 times, jumped a 29-inch vertical and clocked in at a 4.6 forty. Coach Kahui, Baldwin’s defensive line coach, compared him to former Baldwin athlete and USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears.
"BYU is looking at me to play defensive tackle," Tasini said. "I currently play linebacker and tight end, but I've wanted to play defensive tackle this whole time and BYU wants me at tackle. They want me to play defensive end and I'm perfectly fine with that. I would be happy to play anywhere actually."
Not only is Tasini happy that BYU is pulling for him, but his entire family – Tasini is the oldest of six children – are also pulling and pushing for him.
"My family is happy that BYU is looking at me," said Tasini. "That's kind of where they are looking for me to go. They've been pushing me because that would be the best for me to go to BYU and serve a mission."
BYU's coaches invited him to come out and attend the Cougars’ summer football camp. However, Tasini turned down the opportunity.
"BYU invited me to come out to their summer camps, but I haven't been able to go to any camps this year," Tasini said. "I stayed home to go to summer school. I wanted to put school first, so I dropped all my summer camps this year, sadly. Without school, sports isn't possible."
Meanwhile, BYU isn’t the only school pursuing Tasini.
"Utah, [Hawaii] and UNLV have all offered," Tasini said. "It was exciting and Utah was the first to offer. Coach Chad [Kauha'aha'a] came down and talked with me and that's when he offered. Oregon and Washington and [Arizona] are also recruiting me. I think that's about it off the top of my head."
Despite having three current offers in hand, there is one that Tasini really wants, and he wants it really bad. In fact, he won't make a final decision on where he wants to play college football until the end of his senior season in hopes he can earn a BYU scholarship.
"Yeah, I want that BYU offer," Tasini said. "I want it just as bad as I've wanted any offer. I'm really looking forward to it, but I have to wait and see now. I'm not going to make my decision until after my senior season is done with."
In order to earn that coveted BYU offer, Tasini is working on improving his grades.
"The one thing that is keeping me down is my grades," he said. "I'll be honest with you about that. That's why I never went to any summer camps and stayed home to go to summer school this year – to get my grades up. That's why I'm working on it as hard as I can to get it higher. I want to get that BYU offer. I'm at a 2.7 [GPA] right now and they want it up to a 3.0. I need to get it up .3 and I should be good."
So when will Tasini know if he's made the BYU grade?
"I'm waiting for them to give me a call," he said. "I'm waiting for the school to make a call and my coaches to tell me. When they call me, that's when I'll know."
With him waiting to get a BYU scholarship offer, one would naturally assume that Tasini would end up at BYU if that offer comes.
"Yeah, chances are," Tasini said.