Ammon Aiono is a big Samoan boy. Coming in at just more than 6 feet 1 inch, and weighing about 330 pounds, Aiono plays defensive tackle and nose guard.
"At the defensive tackle position, I'm really quick on my feet for my size," he said. "My bench is around 315 pounds and I'm trying to get that higher. My squat is 550 pounds and I haven't been able to max out on my power clean yet. I'm very aggressive to the point where teams double-team me on every play.
"At the nose guard position it's pretty much the same thing because you're holding a two-gap. But when I'm one-on-one with another player I beat him on a regular basis. That's when teams start double-teaming me."
Two weeks ago, Aiono was on campus to catch the Cougars take on the Bengals of Idaho State. His campus experience turned out to be something much different than expected.
"It was really exciting," Aiono said. "I loved it out there and had a lot of fun. When I first stepped foot on campus, I just felt the Spirit. I just thought I need to come here and this would be a great school for me. When I came on campus, I was expecting something different. It was much different and the campus was amazing. The facilities are amazing, the coaches, and it's just a great school. It's just a great school, and I think graduating with a degree from BYU would be awesome. It was just the overall feeling of the school. I didn't feel that way at other colleges."
Having recently moved from the state of Connecticut to Nevada, Aiono attends Bishop Gorman but didn't play this past season. The lack of on-field performance has left him without film for coaches to evaluate.
"I moved from Connecticut so I don't really have any film of my playing," he said. "BYU, they want me to come to their camp over the summer because they want to see what I've got. They're showing interest in me before my senior season. I think they want to see me earlier and that's just great news for me. They want to see me play, so I'm going to go to these camps like the All-Poly Camp or BYU's padded camp and hopefully show that I can dominate."
The coaches currently recruiting Aiono are Coach Tidwell and Coach Kaufusi. Not long ago he met with both coaches for a talk in their offices while in town.
"Coach Tidwell is a great man," Aiono said. "He's really direct and honest with what he says. I really like him a lot because he's just a great guy to be around.
"With Kaufusi it was more of a brief meeting, but you can tell he's the kind of coach who really is hands-on. He was asking about what colleges I wanted to go to and stuff like that. He was asking me about what I was planning on doing next year with camps and things like that. Off the field he seems like a great man as well and would be my defensive line coach if I make it to BYU. He's a great teacher on the field and off.
"The main meeting I had though was with Coach Tidwell, and that's when he asked me, 'Hey, I want you to come out to the All-Poly Camp/BYU camp. Come out and let the coaches evaluate you, work with you, get to know you."
Another coaching staff in the state of Utah that wishes to evaluate Aiono is the Ute coaching staff.
"They were kind of iffy at the beginning but they've been coming on to me now pretty strong," said Aiono. "Coach [Jay] Hill has been evaluating me. I would say they're pretty serious. Coach Hill said, 'Ammon, how are you doing? I know who you are and I'm going to be evaluating you. I caught your Bishop Gorman game last year.' I told him I was interested in coming onto campus, and he said, 'Yeah, we'd love have you come onto campus. Just tell me when you're coming.' He says things like that."
Aiono has already been up to Utah State at a football camp this year, but the Aggie staff believed he was a 2014 prospect and largely ignored him, having already filled their 2014 defensive lineman quota. After finding out that wasn't the case, Aiono has been invited back next year.
"I've been in touch with Coach Maile of Utah State, and I was able to go through drills and stuff with him at the Utah State camp this year," Aiono said. "So, I've just been keeping in touch. He came down this past season but I didn't play this year. He invited me out to their camp again and also to the All-Poly Camp this next year because the Utah State coaches are going to be there. Utah State is up there and I get letters from them and all that."
Two colleges back east have also shown interest in him.
"Connecticut University is also showing interest in me, as well as UConn," said Aiono. "I reached out to them myself, and they asked me about what school I played for when I lived in Connecticut. I told them that I was a freshman there and started out on varsity. They said they're going to invite me to camp once everything gets set."
So to prepare for next summer's camps, Aiono wants to put on his best display.
"Honestly, I just want to get bigger, stronger and faster than I've ever been before," he said. "I also want to maintain a good relationship with the BYU coaches, Utah coaches, and Utah State coaches. I also want to improve my skills as a defensive lineman."
The state of Nevada has a defensive tackle/nose guard that is receiving quite a bit of out-of-state attention from several Utah schools. The big Samoan junior moved out of the obscurity of Connecticut to the Silver State recently and has been gaining more attention.