On Saturday the Cougars opened fall camp and took the field to prepare for the upcoming season. Many of the players’ family members stood on the sidelines watching the practice. Also on the sidelines was a young man from Syracuse High School by the name of Kavika Fonua. Prior to watching the grueling practice, Fonua committed to Coach Mendenhall.
"It's going to be different but I'll be conditioned and I'll be ready for it," said Fonua. "It's really fast and I'm going to have to be ready for it. I was really impressed with how fast and athletic the team looks."
Fonua will play safety for the Cougars and chose BYU over Utah.
"I already knew I wanted BYU a long time ago," said Fonua. "It was mostly my parents who wanted me to wait and make sure I would make the right decision and everything, but I've always wanted to come to BYU for a long time. When BYU would send me letters it was always more personal and about me. Like, it was always about staying humble and things like that. When Utah sent me letters it was always about ‘Look what we have.’"
In short, BYU's approach was more about personal development rather than about what a player could provide for them.
"Yeah, I don't want to make it sound bad. but yeah," said Fonua.
Fonua's interest in BYU stems from its affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has also grown very attached to the coaches at BYU.
"I just love Coach Mendenhall and Coach Howell and just really think they are great men and coaches," said Fonua. "Coach Howell was a big reason why I committed because he had been following me and telling me that I should be a Cougar for a long time. I really want him to coach me at the safety position a lot.
"When I talked to Coach Mendenhall he was really happy about it. It was kind of overwhelming and hard to explain, but he was just so excited for me. It was just really exciting. There were a lot of big smiles. Coach Howell was like, 'Finally! Finally! it's about time!' He was excited too."
While he was at BYU last Saturday, Fonua got to meet some of the Cougar players.
"The players all introduced themselves to me and were all nice and just great kids," said Fonua. "I'm excited about joining this program because of how great it is and now nice everyone is. Everybody just welcomed me into the BYU family pretty much. They're all just great players too and so it's going to be very exciting to play with them in the future."
Although Fonua has favored BYU for a long time, his brother-in-law Carl Williams plays for the University of Utah.
"He wanted me to go to Utah, but he didn't pressure me too much because he knew that I liked BYU," said Fonua. "He was trying to get me to go to Utah but he was supportive of me going to BYU. He's going to be a senior this year and plays running back over there at Utah. He'll be gone by the time I play college ball, so it's not like I would be playing with him or anything like that if I went to Utah."
Fonua will come to BYU as a top-100 prospect nationally and as the top safety prospect in the state of Utah. He racked up quite the list of accolades in his junior season alone.
"I was first-team all-state for my junior year and I was first-team all-state for punt return as well," Fonua. "I was also all-region and all-area. I got the MVP at the All-Poly Camp and MVP at the Mountain West Elite Camp. I was also named MVP at the Nike camp in Oregon. At the Nike camp in Texas I ran a 4.48 forty with a 38-and-a-half vertical jump. I had a 39 power ball toss and that was my best numbers at the camp and scored a 123.30."
Fonua's SPARQ rating currently place him 38th overall in the nation and seventh-best among defensive backs nationally. His athleticism, speed, instincts and explosiveness resulted in some gaudy numbers last season.
"I had 115 tackles last season and three or four interceptions," said Fonua. "I also had two safeties."
He put his ball-hawking skills on display at the All-Poly Camp and Mountain West Elite Camp, absolutely dominating the competition. He also helped Team Utah win the passing league championship his sophomore year at the Badger 7-on-7 passing league held in Las Vegas.
"I had around 12 total interceptions at the Mountain West Elite Camp and I think I had a few at the All-Poly Camp," said Fonua. "I had a good camp. My sophomore year we won the passing league championship. I helped the team win with an interception on the last play to win the championship. We were runner-up this last time at the 7-on-7 passing league my junior year."
With Fonua’s commitment, Coach Mendenhall is getting a talented prospect who will go on a mission first and then suit up for the Cougars.
"Yup, it's all about the Cougars now," said an excited Fonua. "Go Cougars!"