BYU extends offer to Washington running back

Darrin Laufasa

Darrin Laufasa, a 6-foot-1-inch, 220-pound running back from Bothell High School in Washington, drove down to BYU with his father John and visited practice on Saturday. Then, they met with head coach Bronco Mendenhall. It was a great experience for the both of them.

The Cougars were out in full force for Saturday's practice. In attendance to watch the Cougars was a recruit that BYU has been courting over the past couple of months.

"Overall I loved it there, you know?" said running back Darrin Laufasa. "BYU has such a beautiful campus, a great football program, great coaches and a great environment. It was just an overall great experience."

Laufasa got a chance to see what is expected on the practice field at BYU.

"It was great just being there and being able to go on the field and see the coaches working with their players," Laufasa said. "It was great to see the type of coaching they do and to see how the players played and responded was really cool. It was great watching the players there talk to each other and see what kind of players they are. It was really cool."

So what did Laufasa think of the Cougar running backs?

"They have a lot of experienced and talented running backs there at BYU," Laufasa said. "To me that's kind of a good thing because you know what you have to compete against as well as you know what kind of guys are going to mentor you."

Following practice, Laufasa was invited to meet with Coach Mendenhall in his office.

"It went really well speaking with Coach Mendenhall. Actually, it was great," Laufasa said with excitement in his voice. "He told me what he was looking for in a player and I told him what I was looking for in a college. I guess he kind of saw something in me and decided to offer me a scholarship."

Laughing for a second, Laufasa then said, "I'm excited! I mean, BYU is such a great program and they have such great coaches there. I can't help but be excited about my offer from Coach Mendenhall. After all these years of working hard, it definitely feels great to see it all pay off finally.

"To be given the opportunity by Coach Mendenhall, and really Coach Poppinga – who was the one that first got the ball rolling – and Coach DuPaix, I can't thank them enough for the opportunity to be at that school. I thank them for everything they've done over these past couple of days."

Sitting with Laufasa in Coach Mendenhall's office was his father John, who was very impressed with everything he experienced during the visit.

"Oh, I loved the fact that BYU offered my son because I'm a Christian man," said John. "I run my family as a Christian family. I watched their video that they showed today and it almost brought me to tears."

A rather large man who looked as though he could still strap on the pads and take on any linemen at the college level, John was nearly brought to tears because he knew exactly what his son had just been offered.

"Football is important to me, but so is my religion," he said. "Even though we are not LDS, BYU is a Christian school and is a great fit for my son. They want to recruit him at the position he wants to play and allow him to run where he wants to most. He's going to talk to his mother and then we're going to go there."

John is excited that his son has a chance to be affiliated with a program with strong principles and where more is expected of him than simply the development of his football skills, and that excitement made him emotional.

"Ah shoot, I had to fight back the tears," John said with a chuckle in his voice. "I have three sons and Darrin is my last one, so I've always put my trust in God to guide my children. I was so overwhelmed after my son got the offer, I told him I wish I could make the decision for him right then and there."

Laufasa also had the opportunity to speak to some of the Cougar running backs after practice.

"All of them are great guys," Laufasa said. "After practice, I got a chance to sit down and talk to Mike Alisa, freshman running back Jamaal Williams, and Iona Pritchard. They are a great couple of kids, man. Just from being there two days, once I get there – if that's where I decide to go – I'm going to have a great time just being there."

A member of the Catholic faith, Laufasa was able to speak one-on-one with Williams, who is also non-LDS but Christian nevertheless.

"He was telling me how much he loves the program there at BYU," Laufasa said. "He was telling me what it was like being there and was preaching to me how much he likes Coach DuPaix. I can already tell that Coach DuPaix is really loved by his players and is just a great guy."

Laufasa also enjoyed talking to Alisa, and said that he is such a great guy.

"He talked to me about how he played linebacker but really wanted to play running back, so he followed his dream and made the switch to running back. I told him that it was the same to me with how many schools are looking at me as a linebacker, but I want to play running back. He told me, ‘Do what you love. If you're not doing what you love, you won't give it a 100 percent. So if you want to play running back, then play running back.' It was a great talk and I really liked it."

Other colleges, such as Washington Stare, are recruiting Laufasa as a linebacker. BYU, on the other hand, wants him in the Cougar backfield. Prior to coming down to Provo, Laufasa already held BYU as his top school, and his visit didn't do anything to change his mind.

"Yeah, BYU is on the top of my list," Laufasa said with a laugh at the thought that it would change now that he has a BYU offer. "They really are the only team that wants me as a running back, and that's a position I want to play at the next level. When I get home, me and my parents are going to talk about what to do about my future."

Even though he didn't commit to BYU on Saturday, Laufasa is very happy with the offer.

"BYU is definitely a great school and I'm just so grateful," said Laufasa. "I'm just so glad I have the opportunity to play for a school that has been in the top 25 for [five of] the last six years. I mean, it really is a great day for me.

"After I spoke to Coach Mendenhall, we grabbed something to eat and then hit the road. I'm now driving home and been on the road for a few hours now. BYU is just a perfect fit for me. Once I get home, I'm going to talk to my mom, and once we get that figured out, we'll go from there."

"Right now I want my son to talk it over with his mother, and then he'll probably call Coach up after they talk for a little bit," said John.

If his son does choose BYU, John will be a very happy man.

"If I'm going to put my son in someone else's hands, it's going to be Coach DuPaix and Coach Mendenhall," said John with bold conviction. "They're both family men and I know they love BYU, and that's the kind of men I want my son to be around. I know they'll be around BYU to mentor my son in ways that I would as a father, so to hand my son off to them, I'm very confident knowing they'll be around to take care of him for the next four-to-five years."

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