Fanaika still big on BYU

Brandon Fanaika

With the college football season is in full swing, coaches and fans have turned their attention towards their respective teams. But, that doesn't mean that recruiting has become less important. While BYU has all but wrapped up its 2012 class, there are still a few prospects out there that the staff is courting, and one still holds BYU among his favorites.

Offensive guard Brandon Fanaika is still one of the recruiting focuses of BYU, but the Pleasant Grove offensive lineman hasn't thought much about recruiting, instead deciding to focus more on his senior season.

"I'm kind of at the same point as where I left off," Fanaika said. "I haven't really put too much thought into recruiting. You know, as far as Stanford and BYU, they're definitely teams that I've grown really fond of and are teams that I really love. But I know that you have to start eliminating sometime. I think once the season comes to an end I'll really start focusing and putting most of my time into that."

Fanaika has taken a non-urgent, easygoing approach to recruiting.

"Oh yeah, I've kind of kept myself open to all the teams," Fanaika said. "I've really been shutting most teams down, but the one's that I have been thinking of mostly are all three of the instate schools, Stanford and UCLA. But as far as having a favorite, I'm still open to it.

"Once I get done with all of my official visits, then that's when I'll really come down to it."

There has been a lot of buzz circulating among various outlets and fan forums about BYU possibly going to the Big 12. It's a topic of interest that has even caught the attention of Fanaika.

"Man, it's crazy!" Fanaika said. "I definitely think that BYU is always looking for a challenge. You know, that's one of the things that I like about BYU. I definitely think they have the players and the coaching and all that stuff to do it, but if that happens, I'll definitely be happy for the program. I'll definitely know they'll be a fierce competitor. I think it would be good."

Fanaika feels that if BYU were to join the conference, it would raise BYU's level of perception by being associated with teams such as Texas and Oklahoma. And with that added perception, the LDS faith would be more in the spotlight.

"Exposure-wise, I think it would bring more exposure to the Church from all angles of the world," Fanaika said. "It will definitely help the missionaries out and the Church to get the word across. You know, I kind of look at it like they're a bunch of missionaries just playing out there. You know, really they're playing for the Lord and to get themselves out there for the right reasons, for the Church and for the gospel and all that stuff.

"A lot of people have been questioning the recent move [of independence] that they've been making, but every move that BYU has, there is a deep, deep purpose behind it. I think they make those choices knowing that only the best will come out of it, so, I'm really happy that they are using football for greater purposes other than just getting BYU a couple wins or just getting big games on ESPN. I think it's really good."

Fanaika has an affinity for the man at the program's helm, Bronco Mendenhall. Most of that comes from not only the manner in which Coach Mendenhall carries himself, but from the feelings of spirituality he receives while speaking to him.

"I'm really happy with the way that Coach Mendenhall carries himself and the way he represents the team," Fanaika said. "He's definitely not your average head coach. You know, there is a different feeling every time you talk to him. Every time you talk to him you can't help but feel the church environment and the Spirit that he brings. For him to make unselfish decisions, it definitely not only blesses him but it blesses his team, so I think he's a great coach."

While getting his feet wet in the sport of football, Fanaika never put too much thought in to BYU. It was only over the past couple of years that Utah's top rated offensive lineman has considered BYU as he's matured and gained a better understanding of what BYU is all about.

"I hadn't put in much thought into BYU except for these past couple of years," Fanaika said. "As I got older, I started to really understand what BYU is all about. Being able to research more about BYU, the standards that I have and the morals that I have, when I look at BYU there are the same standards. The program that they have, you need to have those standards to fit in.

"Ultimately, I would say one of the bigger things about BYU is the family environment that comes with it. Provo is a great place and growing up only 15 minutes away from it, it's always been a comfort place. BYU is really close to my family and the education is topnotch.

"The brotherhood that the team has and the bonding that they all kind of surround themselves with is a good-fit place to grow up and finish your younger years and kind of mature more. BYU is a place where you can succeed not only in football or education but succeed more in life. You can definitely be successful in so many ways when you go to BYU. It just has so much to offer. "

When it comes to speaking with other recruits, Fanaika still maintains relative contact with BYU commit and top 2013 offensive lineman Brayden Kearsley. The two often talk about what BYU has to offer and about offensive line coach Mark Weber.

"[Weber's] definitely a true blue Cougar," Fanaika said. "The first day I met him he was in love with BYU, and you know, I don't blame him because of everything that BYU has to offer.

"You know, bottom line, Coach Weber is an outstanding man," Fanaika said. "I absolutely respect him and I can really tell that he really cares for me not only as a player but as a person. Him not being LDS, you know, I really couldn't even tell. The first couple of months that I knew Coach Weber I couldn't even tell that he wasn't LDS until he told me. His standards just fit in with the program.

"The way that he carries himself, it's so natural with the program. Braden told me that he loves Coach Weber and that he can't wait to get up there. He definitely doesn't regret his decision to commit to BYU, and I was talking to his dad and I think that Braden absolutely loves it. If I ended up being teammates with Braden, I wouldn't mind that at all."

With his older brother Jason playing at Utah State, a program also recruiting him, Fanaika laughed when asked for a prediction on Friday's game between the Aggies and Cougars.

"Even if I wanted to, I probably wouldn't be able to tell you," Fanaika said while laughing.

Okay, so we won't back Fanaika up into any difficult corner, knowing he'll have to contend with his older brother if he did happened to choose BYU, or place him in any uncomfortable position when he speaks to a BYU coach. The truth of the matter is he won't even see the game live.

"No, I actually have a game that day and our coach wasn't able to reschedule it," Fanaika said. "It's definitely my loss and I definitely wanted to come out and see that game with how Utah States been running their offense and how BYU has been running their defense.

"Man, I think BYU's defense has really saved them a lot. I'm not bagging on BYU's offense, because they have Jake Heaps and Ross Apo, but I think BYU's defense has really shown that defense really does win games."

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