Meet Moa Peaua, a former Nevada prep All-State tight end and linebacker, the Gatorade State Player of the Year, the can’t-miss LDS prospect from the Silver State looking to mine gold in the shadow of the Wasatch mountain range in Provo, Utah.
But a funny thing happened on his way to expected college football stardom: He literally ate himself out of his Cougar linebacker position.
Overcoming a subsequent major knee injury, Peaua also dabbled ineffectively for a year as a Cougar defensive end before finally finding a home -- and a potential NFL future -- as a fullback.
He not only loves to pile on the pancakes at the table, but also make, shake and bake them on the football field -- to the delight of Cougar fans and the physical detriment of defensive linemen and linebackers who stand opposed or happen to be in his way.
Peaua, the "Tongan Power" pile driver is, for all intents and purposes, a sixth BYU offensive lineman; except he gets the rarified opportunity other offensive linemen don’t to line up a few yards behind the line of scrimmage like a proverbial bull looking for his designated target and mentally paints a big red “X” on his chest.
With the snap of the pigskin, he charges them head-first, with a full head of steam and clears running lanes in impressive pads-popping fashion by knocking like-sized opponents flat on their backs out of the intended path of his running backs Curtis Brown and Naufahi Tahi.
Running backs coach Lance Reynolds described his new weapon in the Cougars’ backfield arsenal. "Very physical would describe Moa. He gained some weight and he was ineffective in losing that weight, so we moved him over to fullback.”
It should be pointed out that not all overweight linebackers are destined for future greatness as fullbacks, but Peaua certainly could be if he maintains his weight, speed and continues to improve his considerable blocking skills.
One aspect of Peaua’s emerging game that Cougar fans have not seen, but his teammates attest to is how good he is running the football and also as a fluid pass-catcher that clears his own path pretty effectively as a bruising call carrier. BYU coach Gary Crowton will likely unleash that part of his offensive arsenal when opponents least expect it.
“When they (BYU coaches) said they wanted me at fullback, I thought it was a good switch. I basically do the same thing as a defensive player. I just go out and hit people,” Peaua said.
He runs a 4.75/40 with the added weight and admits to enjoying the punishment he inflicts on others and clearing the way for his backfield teammates.
“It’s fun helping out the team,” chuckled Peaua. “Opening up wholes for Fahu (Tahi) and Curtis (Brown) is fun. I love doing that.”
BYU fans got their first glimpse of Peaua when he steamed out of the backfield to turn the corner on the Cougar defense with a bruising 25-yard run during the annual Blue and White game.
TV viewers and ESPN commentators first took notice of Peaua following a crushing blow placed on a would-be Boise State blitzer that repositioned the defender flat on his back.
“As a defensive player, you just have to go up and hit people. On offensive, you have to have the right position to get the holes open. You have to sort of take the hit instead of give the hit,” said Peaua.
A top salesman would have more success selling refrigerators to Eskimos living in the frozen Arctic than trying to convince Wyoming defenders that Peaua absorbs hits rather than gives them.
"He's seen some time early,” coach Reynolds said, “but we were waiting until we had a full week where he could be more part of the plan … he became a big part of the plan (against Wyoming). You should see some of the blocks he made on film. There were some big collisions in there and he was a critical part of the running success that we had against Wyoming," he said.
“Mighty Mo” Peaua fired up his boilers, polished his 16-inch guns for yesterday’s air-and-ground engagement against the fighting falcons of Air Force -- where BYU took sole possession of second place in the Mountain West Conference in their best offensive showing this year with a 41-24 road victory.
“It’s getting there. I’m getting used to the offense. It was a little hard learning the plays, blocking and stuff. When they call my name, I’m ready. I’ll do anything to get on the field and help this team.
“I love hitting and anything that has to do with hitting. I just hit people on the field.
Peaua is a junior in eligibility amd may also petition for a medical redshirt year because he had a season-ending knee injury several years ago in a preseason JV game against Snow College.
Peaua admitted he is not all muscle and brawn. “Off the field, you know, I just love them (people) and I‘m nice to everybody,” he concluded with a smile.
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