Tight end Vic So’oto was christened “The Terminator” by his coaches for his aggressive style of play, while middle linebacker Cameron Jensen is affectionately called “The General” because of his command and respect on the field. Big offensive lineman Travis Bright is referred to as “The Hulk” because he is a hulking beast of a man. There have even been whispers around spring camp of “The Super Freshman” in reference to true freshman McKay Jacobson.
It sounds like offensive lineman Sete Aulai may be next in line for a new moniker. Sitting on the bench just outside the locker room doors, Aulai was catching his breath after a full contact scrimmage against the defense when his new nickname was born.
“That’s the rhinoceros right there,” said sophomore defensive end Kyle Luekenga while pointing to Aulai. “Sete 'The Rhinoceros,' is probably the quickest offensive linemen we have.”
Of the three species of rhinoceros, the largest stands six feet tall and will defend its territory with reckless tenacity. They may not be the tallest of the mammals roaming the Asian and African plains, but they are quick for their size and will battle predators with a fierce charge. The rhinoceros nickname is perfect fit for the 6-foot, 313-pound Aulai, who has an on-field mean streak of his own.
“Sete has quick feet like a D-linemen,” said Luekenga. “I think he did a lot of jump roping when he was growing up. He’s so quick he makes me work harder and he’s so quick to recover you have to use your hands better.”
“I’m mobile, I’m quick and I’m short and very aggressive,” said Aulai. “That’s one reason why the coaches have put me at center, and if I put that all together with learning the technique, getting the snaps down and knowing how to do everything then the job is there for me.”
During the past year, Aulai paired up with some of the strongest players on the team in the weight room. According to Aulai he is now the fourth strongest Cougar on the team.
“Jake [Kuresa] is my big uso [Samoan for brother], man,” said Aulai. “I look up to him and I watch everything he does. Eddie [Keele] is a funny guy, man. My lifting group was me, Jake, Travis [Bright] and Eddie and ever since I’ve been lifting with those guys, I’ve gotten stronger. Because of those three guys, I’ve gotten a lot stronger. Lifting with the three strongest guys on the team has really helped me out a lot. Now I’m right behind them. I’m number four—the fourth strongest on the team because I’ve been lifting with those guys.”
There will be stiff competition in the coming weeks at the center position. Aulai, Dallas Reynolds and Jeff Rhea have been trading off taking snaps at the center position, and switching from a fleet footed guard to a charging center takes a bit of an adjustment.
“Right now me, Dallas and Jeff are all competing for the starting position. I think I can learn it, and if playing center is going to help our team, then I’ll play it. If that is where the coaches want me at than that’s where I’ll be.
“It’s more the motion and getting set to defend against the D-linemen. Playing center is obviously a different position than I’m used to playing. Now that I am snapping the ball with our defense running a 3-4, there’s a nose guard right in front of you. Now you have to snap the ball and get set and I’m not used to that. It’s different than guard.”
Along with developing his snap and set motion, Aulai is also trying to learn the new O-line terminology that BYU coaches have implemented this year.
“I pretty much got the offensive line down from being here last year,” said Aulai. “We just changed the names of our O-line plays, so I have to adjust to that now.”