Ray Feinga, the 6-5, 285-pound consensus No. 1 in-state recruiting priority for BYU, Utah and a number of other major colleges, excelled on both sides of the ball at Hunter High School in West Valley City, confirming today to TBS he quietly discussed his thoughts with his father, George Feinga, several days after a home visit last Sunday by BYU head coach Gary Crowton.
“I told him I was pretty sure I was going to commit to the Y (during his official visit). He (father) said if I feel it’s the right decision, then go ahead and commit. He was happy with it when I talked to him about it before I left (for Provo),” Feinga confided.
Feinga said he surprised BYU coaches Saturday with his verbal commitment when he met privately with Crowton, offensive line coach Lance Reynolds and Steve Kaufusi, his primary BYU recruiter, during his visit.
“They were really happy and excited when I committed to them. They didn’t ask me to commit, I just told them. I felt it was the right thing to do,” Feinga added.
Feinga, also honored as Utah's Gatorade Player of the Year, has been on the BYU's recruiting radar for years and led Hunter to a 14-0 record this season. He was also named to Utah’s All-State and the regional 5A First Team MVP.
His high school coach, Wes Wilcken, described Feinga recently as “a man amongst boys. There was never a time this season when someone was beating him.”
Feinga noted the pivotal turning point in his decision was probably Gary Crowton’s visit to their home. “He’s a really smart guy. He knows what he’s talking about and he’s a really soft-spoken guy. My parents also really enjoyed his coming over.”
Upon returning home Sunday from Provo, one of the first calls Feinga received was from Utah offensive line coach, John Hevesy, seeking confirmation of reports that he had verbally committed to the Cougars. “He was surprised that I committed. I told him that ‘I’m going to BYU for sure.’ I’m relieved to have finally made my decision and I’m excited to get started.”
Coming off a very productive season, Feinga noted he favored BYU prior to his senior campaign, adding that the University of Utah came on strong toward the end of the season. “I really like Utah and coach Urban Meyer and thought that I might go there at one point.” He confirmed he will not take a visit to Oregon now.
Ray is the eldest of George and Lisa Feinga’s two sons. All six siblings, four sisters – Sita (20); Sia (19); Neo (15) and Petesi (7); and younger brother, Fine (13), are still living at home and “were surprised, but I think they felt I’d commit to BYU.”
He said the “community and the people” in Provo reaffirmed his emotional commitment. “It’s just the whole atmosphere. I’m LDS and I plan on serving a mission after my first year. The LDS atmosphere was a big plus for me and my plans.”
An added plus was having several relatives on the Cougar team that also encouraged him to sign with BYU. “My father told me that Ofa (Mohetau) and Taufui (Vakapuna) are my cousins. I got along great with both of them, so that helped. Ofa said I’m really going to like this place. Having so many Polynesians on the team is something I like.”
His official host was fellow Tongan Philip Niu, a freshman tight end that excelled last season for the Cougars. “He’s a great guy and having him host me was great. I loved snowmobiling, going to the basketball game and everything. It was a great trip and was all that I could ask for. It made the decision easy to make.”
Asked what his immediate goal as a true freshman was, he responded, “I’m just trying to come in this year and get some playing time before I go on my mission.”
Getting stronger and faster remain his primary goals in the off-season. “I’m pretty strong right now, but I can always get stronger. I want to add about 10 pounds of muscle while getting quicker. I just want to be as prepared as possible for my first season. I definitely want to play. I’m open to a redshirt, but I’d love to play my first year and get started.”
On the heels of two consecutive losing seasons at BYU, Feinga was optimistic about the Cougars’ upcoming season. “I think we’re going to do really well this year with the people they’ve recruited.”
(TBS Managing Editor Brandon Gurney contributed to this report.)
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