Paul Lasike hadn’t initially planned on playing football.
“Well, when I got off my mission I came back to BYU for rugby originally,” Lasike said. “The football coaches knew me from before the mission because we do strength and conditioning with them.”
The coaches had seen the 6-foot, 225-pound rugby star’s strength and speed. Given Lasike’s athleticism, the idea of allowing him to try playing running back was put into motion.
“They were interested in me,” Lasike said. “They gave me a locker, they gave me an opportunity to prove myself. You know, I wasn’t coming on to be a superstar or anything. They were interested in my athletic abilities, simply my athletic abilities.”
Lasike proving himself in football would likely be a daunting feat, given the fact that he had never played the sport, let alone at this level of competition.
“They told me at the start of March, at the start of spring ball, that if I prove myself they’ll give me a scholarship [at the] start of January 2013,” said Lasike.
Not only were the odds not in his favor, but he would also have to juggle rugby and school with football. The month of March was hectic for the New Zealander.
“And so spring ball went along, and like I said, it was March Madness balancing both [football and rugby] and school,” he said.
However, Lasike endured the rigors of BYU’s football spring camp, excelled as expected in rugby, and kept up with his schoolwork. Following spring camp, Coach Mendenhall called him into his office to give him some good news.
“I got through it and basically Coach Mendenhall brought me in and said, ‘You proved yourself and you earned yourself a scholarship for 2013.’”
However, Lasike didn’t accept the scholarship from Coach Mendenhall right away.
“He told me at the start of the week and I said, ‘I’ll think about it,’” Lasike said with a smile.
“So I went and thought about it and went back up and saw him [on April 6], and everything is worked out. The scholarship aid starts in January 2013.”
As of now, Lasike is currently on a rugby sponsorship that will last until his football scholarship takes effect in January.
“I have a sponsor for rugby, and so they brought me over on a sponsorship,” Lasike said. “It’s an unrelated BYU football sponsorship. I was able to do that and it’s carried me over until now. During spring ball I was on rugby terms and conditions, so I had to work around my rugby schedule. Now that football is there, I’ll be working around my football commitments and opportunities.”
So, it appears that Lasike will continue to do both with the focus now shifting more towards football now that he’s on scholarship. Though March is over, it looks like ‘March Madness’ will continue for Lasike as he juggles both sports.
“The month of March went by so fast, I was so busy,” he said.
Now Lasike can look back with a clear view of why he felt he needed to return to BYU following his mission. At first he wasn’t sure about it, but the prospect of possibly playing BYU football gave him enough incentive to return. He always believed there was more behind the reason why he felt he should return to BYU, and now he knows it.
“Yeah, that’s what I mean,” Lasike said with a laugh, “because I wasn’t really going to do it, because I was just doing it just to do it. But now that they’ve given me a scholarship, you know, I’m just going to grasp it. I think it’s a huge blessing from the Lord, you know?”