From Thursday through Saturday, Shiloah Te'o showed camp performers and Division I coaches from various colleges why the Cougars of BYU value him not only as a football player, but also as a young LDS athlete. He was named an All-Poly Camp performer.
"Today I played free safety and strong safety," Te'o said with a smile. "I lost 10 pounds so I could stay in the defensive backfield. I was at 205 but now I'm at 195. I mostly played in the backfield during full and "thud" scrimmages, where players could hit one another but not take each other down to the ground.
"During the camp, we basically went over basic fundamentals. Many of the techniques that I've learned [were] from my coach back home. [Coach Santiago] is a great coach and I've received a lot of compliments from the coaches out here, who've said that I was taught well. We did some hitting, but it was "thud" up because they didn't want us to get hurt before the season.
"I learned a couple of new things from the coaches. More specifically, I learned some things at the strong safety position from the Boise State coach, Coach Vili [Tuivai]. He helped in learning how to cover the flats a little bit quicker and easier. I was just back peddling, but he wanted me to get out into the flats a bit faster, like what would happen at the D-I level.
"I also learned a lot from Colorado coach Donnell Leomiti too. He also showed me a lot and is an up-tempo coach. I really like him. He taught me at the free safety position and was my coach last year [at the All-Poly Camp]."
Coach Leomiti has informed Te'o that Colorado is more than likely going to start recruiting him, thus joining teams such as BYU, Utah, Hawaii, UNLV, USC, Boise State, Oregon State, Washington, Tennessee, Idaho State and Notre Dame.
Despite starting out the camp a bit slow, Te'o said the camp experience was well worth it.
"It was a great experience for me," Te'o said. "I started off a bit slow because I got off the flight from Hawaii at 10:00 in the morning. We didn't really sleep on the flight over and then just came right over here. This air was killing me too!"
"I leave Utah on Wednesday to go to L.A. On Monday I'm going down to BYU's camp. Me and Paipai Falemalu might participate in one day of BYU's summer camp, most likely on Monday. Marky Atuaia is going to take us up there.
"When I go down to BYU I hope to find that they're an up-tempo team. I hope their camp is an up-tempo style because that's what I like. I like all the yelling a lot, but I know it's a religious school, so I don't know how much yelling there will be. I'm really not expecting there to be much swearing because it's a Mormon school, but I really do like the up-tempo style.
"That's just the type of player that I've always been. Whenever I'm having a good game, our team is clicking. Whenever I'm having a bad game and I'm not talking, then our team gets down. Once I snap out of it, then I feel our team snaps out of it also."
Te'o heard that one-time Kahuku High School teammate Michael Alisa was enjoying some success playing at Timpview High School in Provo, Utah.
"Michael Alisa is a great kid on the field and he's a great kid off the field too," Te'o said. "He transferred out here to Timpview and never did play varsity football with us. He's a great football player but never played varsity football back in Hawaii.
"I heard he came out here and tore it up. He's a tall kid and is really athletic. He used to play running back and safety when he first started playing football with us, but never started. Michael Alisa is a great kid and always worked hard, and if he had stayed back home and played at Kahuku he probably would have started and been a great asset to our team. Now he's here at Timpview and I wish him the best of luck. I heard that he had committed to BYU."
Along with Shiloah, his sophomore first-cousin Manti Te'o was also a top All-Poly Camp performer, but at the linebacker position. Since Manti transferred from Kahuku High School, Shiloah hopes that one day he can again play along side his close cousin.
"The last time I played in a game with Manti was when we played during Pop Warner. His freshman year he moved up to varsity, when I was a sophomore, for our state championship game, so I played with him then, even though he didn't play in the game.
"Manti is great and has always supported me in everything that I do. Sometimes I fee like he's my number one fan. He's one of the greatest linebackers in Hawaii and is the best right now. I would love to play college football with Manti or any member of my family, but I would also love to play against him too. It's always a competition between Manti and me. He always wants to beat me out and when he does, then I want to work harder to come back and beat him out.
"He has an offer from USC, and Pete Carroll called him and told him that they would let him go on his mission. I don't know what Pete Carroll is doing, but so far they're letting him go on his mission. You know, I wish him the best of luck if he decided to go there, but I would love for him to play college football with me at the next level. To play with Manti would be good for us, and especially our family."
Following Saturday's final day of the All-Poly Camp, Shiloah, along with his mother, father, cousin Manti and Kahuku outside linebacker Paipai Falemalu, will take an unofficial visit to BYU to tour the campus, meet the coaches and see the facilities.
"We're going to head down to BYU on an unofficial trip," Shiloah Te'o said. "We're going to go down there and check everything out. I've never been on BYU's campus before. I'm not sure what to expect, but that's the school of my religion. It should be very interesting for me. I really want to check out the campus a lot."
Along with God-given talents, Shiloah was also blessed with a lot of heart. To him, football is about playing for something that has both meaning and depth, rather than simply something of surface value.
"Having tradition is key for me," said Te'o. "If you have tradition, then you have something to play for. If you can be a part of a team that has tradition, then you'll play all-out for that team. That's one thing I really look for. I know BYU has great tradition, and hopefully I can see and be a part of it.
"At BYU, that's my religion right there, and I'll play all out for my religion. I'll do anything for my religion, whatever my religion wants. I'll always protect my religion and will never let anyone bring my religion down. I play for something bigger than me. If I'm doing well, then I feel good. I know that I can bring up the team and their motivation to win, even if we are down."
Te'o's newfound perspective and motivation for playing football is something that he gained one night after listening to one man speak at the pulpit. The words that were spoken that night by BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall would greatly impact Te'o, and might even change his life forever.
"I met Coach Mendenhall once when he offered me a scholarship, and he just talked to me for one minute," said Te'o. "Then last Sunday I went to a fireside and that was the best fireside I've ever been to. Coach Mendenhall seems like a great guy and a great coach. When I felt the Spirit while he gave his talk, [I] have to respect it. You have to respect who he is and what he said once you feel the Spirit.
"You have to respect what he's done. No other coach has ever done what he did by taking up The Book of Mormon to the podium [during a press conference] to read from the scriptures. I always respect a person like that for standing up for who he is and [who] never backs down to nobody, especially for his religion.
"It brought a tear to my dad's eye when he heard that story. When we heard that story it was just a great feeling. Coach Mendenhall is a great man and is trying to do the right thing for us young LDS kids, and he isn't going to back down from nobody and is going to put our religion into this sport of football and everything else he does. That's a great thing to me and he's a great man and I respect him for that.
"I would love to play for Coach Bronco Mendenhall. The feeling that he gave me [made me feel like] I didn't want to play for no other. He helped me to understand that I don't just play for myself, but that I represent my family all the LDS people.
"That fireside meeting changed my whole mindset. I was thinking that football was first over everything. I would work out every day because it was all about playing football, [and planned to] skip my mission because it would mean not playing football. That day changed my whole perspective and now I'm taking things more than ever into consideration. That day changed everything for me.
"Now I understand more about our religion and I'm proud of our religion. Bronco really instilled that within my mind when he spoke that night. Now I play football with a greater purpose in mind, and now I am for sure going to serve my mission. You can make that public: I'm going to serve my mission.
"It would be a dream come true to play for Coach Mendenhall. I just fell in love with Bronco. You never know what is going to happen, but I would love to play for him right now. Right now BYU is on my mind and I would love to play there, especially to represent my religion and my family."
Te'o feels that Coach Mendenhall has a goal to help young LDS athletes understand that there is more meaning and purpose behind why they sweat, sacrifice, make tackles and score touchdowns on the football field.
"What I think he's trying to do is mainly find great LDS young men that will help out his program on the field, and be an example religiously off the field for the LDS community. He wants young men that will follow the BYU rules and live the values that are taught by the church there."