Dominguez High School in Compton, California has two 2014 LDS prospects that BYU is evaluating. One is tight end/defensive end Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, and the other is Uriah Leiataua.
“I’m around 6’3”, 240 pounds and I play defensive end and tight end at my high school,” Leiataua said. “I like playing defense but I also like playing pulling guard because I like to hit guys. As a defensive end, I use my hands really well and I’m able to beat offensive linemen to get to the quarterback really easy. The last time I talked to my coach he told me that I had around 40-something solo tackles and around seven sacks as a d-end.”
Not bad for that being only his second year of playing football. And while Leiataua might be successful as a pass-rushing specialist, he is also astute in the classroom.
“Even though this is only my second year of playing football, I’ve always been a scholar,” Leiataua said. “I have a 4.2 accumulated GPA right now. My mom and dad want me to be more of a student before an athlete. I take three honor classes and have done that since my freshman year.”
An honor roll student, and a first-team all-San Gabriel Valley selection, Leiataua is beginning to receive some recruiting attention from various colleges.
“I’m getting some interest from Washington State and Arizona,” he said. “I’m getting letters from Tennessee and Utah. I’m also getting letters from UCLA. I got a visit from Washington [coach Marques Tuiasosopo] at my school, who talked to my coach. It was more of a hi-and-bye kind of thing. Then I got a visit from Coach Ferrigno from Michigan.”
However, there is one college and football program Leiataua is highly interested in for personal reasons. He is hoping that coaches from BYU will follow suit and pursue him with greater recruiting interest.
“I haven’t really heard from them but I’m really interested in them,” Leiataua said. “My adopted older brothers [Shannon and Sonny Tevaga] played for UCLA, so I grew up a UCLA fan because they played there. Sonny used to live with us when he played for Dominguez. Then he went and played for UCLA, but I really fell in love with BYU over the past couple of years.”
A member of the LDS faith, Leiataua’s deep interest in BYU has led him to research the school.
“I really love what BYU stands for,” he said. “Like, I’ve watched all their recruiting videos and like to go online and search for BYU videos when I get bored. I really like doing that because they’re inspirational and exciting.”
Leiataua also has connections to the state of Utah.
“I really like BYU because Utah is also a beautiful place. I used to go up there every summer and visit with my cousins every year,” Leiataua said. “I really like it out in Provo and it’s just a really beautiful place to visit. I would always see BYU’s campus and it’s really nice out there.”
While Leiataua still has one more year left of high school football to play, and BYU is still in the evaluation stage with many 2014 prospects, he is hoping to hear from the Cougar coaches.
“I’m really hoping to hear from them, but my mom said for me to keep my options open,” Leiataua said. “I’ve just really grown a strong interest in BYU for many reasons. BYU plays topnotch football, and I just feel like that could be a home for me. I want to go out of state but I don’t want to go too far away where it’s unfamiliar. I just feel like BYU is that place for me. My cousins out in Utah, the ones that I stay with, they’re Ute fans, but I don’t know if Utah is my thing. I like the spiritual side of BYU and what they stand for because that’s more who I am. I really want to run out of the tunnel as a flag-bearer. That’s a dream of mine.”