The fullback position in BYU’s offense is a critical one, whether as a lead blocker, pass catcher and pass protector. On Wednesday the coaches at BYU got their man in Patrick Palau, a member of the 2013 class.
“I play linebacker for East High School, but BYU offered me as a fullback,” said Palau with a laugh. “It’s kind of funny because I used to play fullback when I was a freshman. When you play fullback it’s all about the legs. I can squat around four or five plates on each side.”
The Cougar coaches had been eyeing Palau for some time now and love his brute strength and physical play.
“They said that I’m very physical and aggressive,” Palau said. “They said that my style of play is very aggressive and so they want me to bring that to the offense as a fullback. I’m pretty fast for my size and so they want me to bring that as a fullback in the BYU backfield.”
In fact, when Palau would hit someone as a linebacker, his teammates would yell ‘Palau!’
“That’s what all the guys used to say whenever I hit someone,” said Palau with a laugh. “That’s what they used to say when I hit someone or ran the ball as a freshman. I hope to bring that to BYU and bring that same aggressive style of play for Coach DuPaix and Coach Doman.”
Palau impressed the Cougar coaches while visiting BYU.
“Coach DuPaix had been recruiting me and came by my high school a couple of times,” Palau said. “At the camp and Junior Day, I did really well and did some drills with them, so they pulled me off to the side and started working with me. They were teaching me the offense and how the fullback fits in it.”
On Wednesday he received a call from his high school coach Brandon Matich, who told him he and his family needed to go to Provo for a meeting with Coach Mendenhall.
“I came to Provo with my family and everything just happened so fast,” said Palau. “It was the first time I had met Coach Mendenhall.
“When me, my grandparents and my uncle were in Coach Mendenhall’s office, it was truly a great experience for us all. My uncle Kimi was translating everything [Mendenhall] was saying to them in Tongan. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
“He brought us in and sat us down. Then he asked us a couple of questions about life and I answered them. He gave me a piece of paper and that’s when I started tearing up.”
The scholarship offer caught Palau by surprise.
“I can’t believe they offered me and I committed on the spot,” he said. “I’m just still trying to understand that it’s a reality that I’ve been offered and committed to BYU.
“My grandma started crying tears of joy and that really hit me. When I saw that, it was really hard for me because of all the things my family has been through. To see my grandparents cry tears of joy and my uncle so proud of me was an experience I’ll never forget. Coach Mendenhall truly is a great man. He’s more than just a coach on the field but someone who brings tears of joy off it.”
To see Palau get a scholarship from BYU was a great moment for his grandparents. When he was a young boy, Palau’s parents separated, and he hasn’t seen his father since then. However, in 2005 at the tender young age of 11, Palau lost his mother Viola to cancer.
“My grandma Lavenia and my grandpa Manu Palau raised me along with my uncle Kimi Palau and his wife.
“ They were the ones that took me in and taught me how to be a leader in high school and always do things the right way. To be honest, I’m just grateful for my grandparents for teaching me the gospel in the home and to live right. My grandparents and my uncle Kimi and his wife were a big influence on me and in my life. They raised me up to be the person that I am today and I couldn’t have done it without them, my coaches and my teammates at school.”
Palau views his scholarship offer and commitment as being in his family’s honor for all they’ve done for him
“The scholarship I got from BYU today is a way to thank my grandparents and my uncles for taking care of me,” Palau said. “It’s a way to tell my mother that even though she isn’t here with me now, that I’m doing the right things on and off the field in a way that would make her proud of me.
“I think the biggest things for kids nowadays is to make their parents proud, and I truly think I did that today by getting a scholarship offer from BYU. That’s the best way to honor your parents and I know I’ve made her proud of me today.”