Isaiah Kaufusi’s parents Jeff and Brooke were in Hawaii helping with the All-Poly Camp at the time their son was offered by BYU. Excited about the proposition of playing for a university sponsored by his faith, he expressed a desire to commit, but not without the consent of his parents, as Coach Mendenhall always prefers.
Now that Isaiah’s parents are back from Hawaii, a meeting between them and Mendenhall has yet to take place. Mendenhall is out of town, and according to Isaiah, will not be back until about the end of the month.
“I think he went to Hawaii and I heard he’s a really good surfer,” Isaiah said. “When he comes back, then we’ll have a meeting with my parents to go over things.”
In fact, Isaiah has yet to talk to his parents about why he wants to commit to BYU.
“I think I will soon with my mom and dad so he can understand where I’m coming from and I can understand his side of the story,” Isaiah said. “We haven’t had that discussion yet but we will soon.”
The young linebacker still feels the same about BYU as he did the day he received his scholarship offer.
“Things are good and I still have the same opinion about BYU,” he said. “I still feel the same way as I’ve always felt.”
So from a personal standpoint, why is Isaiah so dead set on attending BYU?
“You know, hopefully I’ll grow into the Kaufusi family name,” he said. “I’d like to be an outside backer and, being a Kaufusi, feel that coming off the edge is in my blood. I feel like BYU’s defense with the 3-4 would be a good fit for me. I feel that playing on the outside would fit my strengths as a football player.
“Then the education that BYU provides is top-notch, so to be able to play football and get the quality of education that you can get from there is hard to beat.
“Then you add the spiritual side to those two things and that’s when you start to see why BYU is so different than anywhere else. The spiritual side of BYU you can’t get anywhere else.”
Isaiah was a bright spot on the Brighton defense last season. Despite that fact, the perception by many is that with his uncle Steve Kaufusi being an assistant coach at BYU, that’s the only reason why he was offered. However, that’s simply not the case. It was Coach Poppinga who pushed Coach Mendenhall to extend the early verbal offer.
“Coach Poppinga is the one that is recruiting me and he’s a great man,” Isaiah said. “I have a lot of people telling me – the haters out there – telling me that the only reason I got offered by BYU is because my uncle coaches there. The funny thing is he isn’t the one that recruited me, so I just think it’s really cool that I was offered by BYU after a different coach recruited me. My uncle Steve didn’t have anything to do with it and that makes me feel good.”
Coach Poppinga told Isaiah that he reminds him of a former player he used to play with at BYU: Bryan Kehl. As it turns out, Isaiah and Kehl are connected in another way.
“I’m actually related to [Kehl],” said Isaiah. “Well, kind of, because he was adopted on my mom’s side of the family. I know my grandma on my mom’s side of the family is related to Bryan Kehl’s mom. I’m not exactly sure but I think that’s what it is.”
Meanwhile, another school is starting to show interest in Isaiah.
“My high school coach told me today that a Utah coach called him and asked him some questions,” he said. “I’ve been out of town the past couple of weeks and been down here in St. George at a basketball tournament, so I haven’t really been around. My high school coach said that Utah has called to talk to him and ask him some questions.”
Despite Utah’s interest, Isaiah doesn’t intend on changing his mind.
“BYU is definitely my top college choice right now and I don’t plan on changing.”
What if USC or LSU paid him a personal visit in an attempt to change his mind about BYU?
“I think I would have to stick to my colors,” Isaiah said. “I’d have to stay true to blue and stick to my colors of BYU. Even if [LSU head coach] Les Miles came over and tried to get me to change my mind, I would shake his hand and let him know that BYU is the school for me.”
But what if Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham jumped in the recruiting waters in an attempt to make it a little more red? Utah is where Isaiah’s father Jeff once played along the defensive line.
“You know, that’s why my father wants me to wait because I’m only 16,” he said. “I don’t know, it would be cool to be recruited by Kyle, but I think BYU is the place for me. I have to stick to my heart on this.”
The conviction in Isaiah’s heart has nothing to do with family allegiances or fandom.
“You know, I was able to go to the Temple and was just thinking and pondering about all of this recruiting stuff and what school [to choose],” said Isaiah. “That’s why I feel so strong about BYU. I really felt strongly impressed that BYU is the right school for me, so that’s why it doesn’t really matter what other schools come in. I have to stay true to blue, and feel that Heavenly Father has kind of said, ‘I had BYU offer you for a reason first.’ That’s just kind of how I feel.”