"Oh my gosh, when I finished talking with the BYU today it made it more official and it really means a lot to me," said mother Penina Nacua. "It was such a relief for me because they allowed him to come back. Isaiah had made the decision to go on a mission, and all the other schools were fine with him going on a mission, but it's so humbling because I always knew that BYU was the best place for him. It was just a matter of waiting for him to learn for himself that this was really a good fit for him and to really know in his heart."
Isaiah Nacua first committed to BYU early in June of 2012 while playing at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. Over time he began to receive interest from other colleges such as Arizona and Utah, which made a big push for him to de-commit. His father Lionel had passed away and Isaiah struggled with what was obviously a horrible loss for the family. After the passing of his father, Isaiah went down the lonely road of finding out for himself why his father Lionel always wanted him to go to BYU.
"There was the time when Isaiah committed to BYU that first time then he de-committed," Penina said. "That started him down the long road and was a trial of having to find out for himself. He always knew what his dad wanted and even though he knew that he felt that he needed to find out what he wanted. And that's kind of what he did. Isaiah was able to kind of come back in the end and find out what his dad wanted for him at the beginning was what he really wanted for himself in the end.
"It's great when your kids can do that. It's kind of like the plan of Heavenly Father where he gives you the tools but lets you find out and learn things on your own. He made the commitment to BYU early and after things happened with his father it was hard for him. He went through his entire senior season without his dad, and there were times when he would come home from games and just want to be alone. He would sit by himself and cry because he missed his dad. When he made the decision that he knew BYU is where he needed to be he made the steps to try and get back. When he finally realized that BYU was the best place for him I was like, ‘Okay, it's BYU right? No more decommitting just before signing day or anything like that?' He was like, ‘No mom this is where I want to go and where I want to be. I want to go to BYU and I want to serve a mission. I'm going to come home and play football for BYU.' This was everything that I wanted to hear."
Isaiah's decision that serving a mission and going to BYU was what he wanted to do was made known to his mother Penina this past December, just before Christmas.
"After he made the decision a few months ago to go on a mission it was a relief to me," said Penina. "He came to me just before Christmas and said, ‘You know what mom, I've been praying about it and I want to go to BYU.' I was swear I was like, ‘Darn you! You better pray hard to Heavenly Father that Coach Mendenhall is going to let you come back!' I told him now you really need to be prayerful and we're going to have to see. We're going to have to set up an appointment with Coach Mendenhall."
With serving a LDS mission now his goal, Isaiah set out to make amends at BYU by getting back into the good graces of Coach Mendenhall.
"When he met with Coach Mendenhall recently, I reminded Isaiah that he needed to go in there and be humble," recalled Penina. "I said, ‘You're going in there telling Coach Mendenhall that you made the mistake of decommitting. You need to tell him that you made the mistake of decommitting.' I didn't go into that meeting. It was just Coach Mendenhall and Isaiah, so after when I spoke to Coach Mendenhall he told me that there were some requirements for Isaiah, because Isaiah needed to take his ACT test. He told Isaiah and then my son relayed to me that when he goes on a mission he can return to BYU with a full ride scholarship. I told Isaiah, ‘What better school is there to go to? You have to humble yourself.'"
While Isaiah was meeting with Coach Mendenhall his mother Penina was hoping and praying that he would accept him back into the BYU fold.
"I was hoping that Coach Mendenhall would want him back and he opened his arms to Isaiah and welcomed him back," she said. "When I saw that Coach Mendenhall was going to welcome him back with open arms I was so humbled and so grateful."
While Isaiah was working his way back into the good graces of BYU, he matured and grew from his experiences. Penina believes Coach Mendenhall also saw the change in her son.
"I think Coach Mendenhall saw how much Isaiah changed from the time he went to the seven on seven tournament at BYU with Timpview to the time he met with him most recently," Penina said. "I think Coach Mendenhall was surprised by how much he matured, and I think he saw that whatever test he went through with Isaiah he passed it because Coach Mendenhall said, ‘I'm going to offer you a full ride scholarship when you come home off your mission.' For me as his mother I'm so grateful and humbled because that's what I've always wanted from the beginning. I'm just grateful now that my son came to understand on his own that BYU was the best place for him. He's going to fulfill the original wishes of me and my husband and I couldn't be happier."
Tomorrow at around 12 PM MT Isaiah Nacua, who was a first team all-state, with offers from Utah, Utah State, Arizona State, Arizona among other interests, will sign his national letter of intent with BYU. After his mission he'll join Coach Mendenhall's program having experienced a lot in his own personal life.
"When everything fell into place I knew that it was an answer to prayers and I was just so humbled and knew that Isaiah had really tried hard to do his part," said Penina. "It made me feel really good because now he really fulfilled his dad's dreams of playing for BYU. That's what he always wanted was to have both of his son's there and it was always my intentions and my goal in wanting them to come to BYU. I was hoping that the plan would stay the course.
It's the end of a long road filled with life lessons and lasting gratitude for both Isaiah and for his mother Penina. She couldn't be happier her son found his own way back to a place where she and her late husband Lionel always knew was the best place for him to be.
"I really loved Coach Mendenhall from the first day I met him and I couldn't be more grateful for him today," Penina said. "Just the way he spoke to my sons Kai and Isaiah I knew that he was the coach I wanted my boys to be around. He is such a great man and I just love him and Coach Kaufusi and Coach Anae for being the men that they are. They've all been great coaches and great supporters of me and my family."
The entire BYU coaching staff made a good impression on Penina and her sons as well.
"(The coaches) understand and Coach Anae really connected with my boys because he lost his father, and so that means a lot to me to have men like them who can relate to my son and help my son when things are rough. It's a comfort to me knowing that at BYU there are men who can not only offer my son and young men the opportunity to play great football, but to also be great mentors and father figures around my boys. It's a great blessing for me and my family. Tomorrow will be a great blessing for me and I know my husband will be cheering on my boys from the best seat in the house up in heaven."
TotalBlueSports.com wishes to congratulate Isaiah Nacua on his re-commitment to BYU. We look forward to covering him in the coming years.