"I knew BYU was a great place that did well in the past, and I knew they'd be good in the future, but they're doing great right now," said Kaneakua Friel. "I expected them to be good, but seeing them on ESPN highlights and all that is just great. I'm joining a great football team."
Although he has seen few of BYU's games this year, Friel has managed to see the games that were broadcast nationally, and his father has kept up to date with every game via the internet.
"He follows everything and tells me everything," said Friel regarding what he has learned and about the football team this season from his dad.
Friel came to BYU as a fringe prospect without much if any on-the-field acclamation that would cause coaches to look in his direction. Friel spent his first few seasons in high school pretty much as a special teams scrub. Thanks the huge roster at Kamehameha-Honolulu High School, Friel did not have a position and did not get much recognition.
Since then, Friel turned many heads in off-season camps and workouts. With virtually no high school tape to give to coaches, Friel's workouts needed to be extremely impressive to warrant a scholarship offer from any program. He seized the day by putting up a 4.62 forty that, outdistancing just about every cornerback and receiver in camp. Not bad for a 16-year-old 6-foot-5, 225-pound athlete. Friel also put up the 185-pound bar 15 times and did a standing vertical jump of 30 inches without his shoes on.
Since the summer, Friel played tight end for Kamehameha where he estimated he pulled in two to three balls a game in a very run-intensive offensive system. He caught two touchdown passes and made a play whenever his team threw it to him.
Friel's stats alone would not warrant a sniff from coaches and do not excite fans, but Coach Mendenhall and company are proving skilled at plucking overlooked gems from the Islands like this season's freshman D-line sensation Ian Dulan. Friel intends to start his career in the same manner.
Although he does not know Dulan personally, Friel has become very aware of his exploits as a true freshman.
"He started and played right away, which is great," said Friel. "I hope to make an impact right away. I don't know if it will be at tight end, linebacker or somewhere else, but I just want to play."
In the meantime, Friel keeps in constant contact with Cougar offensive coordinator Robert Anae and plans to visit BYU on an official trip early in January.
"I'm excited to go down there and get to know the campus better and the people there," said Friel. "I'll be at BYU for at least two years since I just barely turned 17 a few weeks ago, and then I'll go on my mission."
Friel's goal from now until the time he arrives in Provo is to work on his speed and strength.
"I'm working out harder than I ever have," said Friel. "I want to get bigger and stronger so that I'll be ready. I'm just very excited to get going, and I'm very glad that I'll have the chance to play for BYU."
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