Moroni Laulu-Pututau is as diverse of an athlete as his name is in regards to cultural heritage. He’s a member of the LDS faith (did the name Moroni from the Book of Mormon gave that one away?), and his mother is Samoan – hence the Laulu part in his last name.
“Yup, that’s how we do it,” Laulu-Pututau said with a laugh. “My mother’s side is Samoan and I’m half Samoan and half palangi [Caucasian].”
The Pututau part of his name, however, is of Tongan origin.
“When I changed my name to Pututau it is because of my stepfather, who is Tongan,” he said. “I wanted to have my Tongan last name because of my stepdad.”
While Laulu-Pututau has many social demographics covered, he’s also in possession of many unique skill sets as an athlete.
“I’m still 6’4”, 185 pounds and run a 4.55 forty,” said Laulu-Pututau. “I don’t really have any weight-room stats at this point in time yet, but I play slot, outside receiver. On defense I play safety and cornerback.”
His size, coupled with his athleticism, could allow Laulu-Pututau to play another position such as offensive tackle – as Mountain Crest’s Coach Wootton once said should could happen should his Polynesian genes kick in and he adds some weight. Or, he could stay outside as a wide receiver much like a Cody Hoffman. He could add just a little more weight and play the h-receiver position much like Marcus Mathews does now and Andre George did in the past.
“Yeah, I think they want me to play the slot or tight end when I get there,” Laulu-Pututau said. “I think we’ll see when I get there, but I think they want me to play there.”
A 6-foot-4-inch Utah high school 4A cornerback would be something to see, and Coach Wootton told Total Blue Sports that Laulu-Pututau is a “legit 4.5 kid” who “runs very fast and really smooth and is just a tremendous athlete.”
“I just try to be precise and really aggressive in everything I do,” Laulu-Pututau said. “I just try to be the best I can be and do it as fast as I can do it. As a cornerback or safety I’m really aggressive and like to come up on receivers.”
This past season, Laulu-Pututau had eight interceptions from the defensive backfield. Whenever there was a need out on an island, Coach Wootton and his defensive staff would move Laulu-Pututau to cornerback to help defend.
“I played mostly safety this past year, but the year before [as a sophomore] they used me mostly at cornerback. This past year when they needed someone to shut down a corner they would move me out to cornerback. ”
Laulu-Pututau uses what he’s learned on defense when it’s his turn to play wide receiver.
“I feel I sort of have an advantage when I play wide receiver,” he said. “I’ve played cornerback and safety so I know when I line up I can see what he’s going to try and do, so I try and use things against him. You know what works and what doesn’t, and so it makes it easier. I know what he’s going to do, so I can make the adjustments and it helps to disguise what you’re doing.”
While Laulu-Pututau might not know all of his stats from last year, he does feel he did improve on his 46 catches for 737 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore.
“Overall, I think I did really well last year. There are things you can always do better, but I feel like I improved last year from the year before and hopefully I can continue to do better for next year.”
As for BYU, Laulu-Pututau was very complimentary of the Cougar coaching staff.
“Coach Howell is the one that recruited me and he’s an awesome guy and I love talking to him,” he said. “The whole coaching staff is just great. It just gets better and better and you can’t really explain it. They’re all just amazing people.”
Laulu-Pututau has been down on BYU’s campus for passing leagues and for a summer camp. The staff saw enough and decided to then offer.
“They had been talking to me the whole time and I could tell they were interested,” he said. “They finally said, ‘Hey, we want to get an interview with you.’ My coach kind of let me know they were probably going to offer me, so when they called me in to see Coach Mendenhall I was really hoping. The adrenaline was pumping and my heart was beating. It was great.”
Laulu-Pututau went in to see BYU’s head coach with his mother and father.
“When Coach Mendenhall finally offered me I was really excited. The whole experience was just great. It was more of a spiritual experience more than anything, the feeling we had in his office. I was just overall happy.”
Although a flood of interest was rapidly coming in from other Utah schools, Laulu-Pututau personally felt he wasn’t going to get a better offer than the one he had just received.
“Well, it came down to my checklist for the best school that was close to home in the state of Utah,” Laulu-Pututau said. “It always came back to BYU as being that school. In my opinion, BYU is the best school for me in the state of Utah and it’s a college that is close to home. So, why should I wait to commit? There’s nothing better than that and be able to play football.”
However as excited as he was, he didn’t commit to Coach Mendenhall on the spot.
“He told me to get back to him whenever I feel,” Laulu-Pututau said. “I think it was a couple of weeks later when I called him up and said, ‘I want to come play for you and BYU.’ Coach Mendenhall was really excited. I’ll never forget it.”
Laulu-Pututau plans on attending more BYU Junior Days, passing leagues and summer camps over the summer. He then plans on attending BYU for a year before serving a mission.
“It’s going to be excited to come back and play for BYU because of the teams we’ll be playing in the future. Playing all those big teams like Nebraska and other big teams we have on the schedule around the country is going to be great for me.”
Well, with teams such as Boise State, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Texas on future schedules, he better bring the Stripling Warriors with him.
“Oh, I plan on it,” Moroni Laulu-Pututau said with a laugh. “You can expect me to give my very best, and I expect to do great things and succeed there.”