“BYU is a special place," remarked Tayo Fabuluje after having visited the BYU campus for the third time this past weekend. “It felt like a special place the first time I went there and it’s only grown since then. I can’t wait to get up there and be part of the team, I really can’t.”
Fabuluje is a 6-foot-6-inch, 270-pound defensive line recruit from Arlington, Texas. Having forged a very strong friendship with Ross Apo while they were both in high school, he quickly committed and then signed with BYU upon attending summer camp there.
While not LDS, he found a home at BYU, which was due in large part to the fast friendships he made with the other recruits who would eventually sign as part of the 2010 class. Bronson Kaufusi, who was the first commit for the 2010 class, in particular helped Fabuluje feel right at home at BYU.
As it so happens, it was the Kaufusi family that put Fabuluje up for the weekend during his visit to BYU. According to him, it’s just what Bronson and the Kaufusi family does.
“Oh, they’re awesome people," said Fabuluje. “Ever since I got to BYU, Bronson has done everything to make me feel as comfortable as possible. I definitely don’t ask him to, but he’s so good like that. And not just him, it’s the whole family. His brother and sister, Coach Kaufusi, they’re all like family.”
Since the first time they met, the two top defensive end recruits have become fast friends and that friendship has continued to this date. While it was Bronson who brought Fabuluje along to acclimate himself better to BYU, those roles may be reversed in a couple of years.
Kaufusi is set to serve a mission to Auckland, New Zealand in a few months, which will delay his enrollment at BYU for two years. In the meantime, Fabuluje will be doing his best to improve within the program. And in doing so, that will mean helping out the underclassmen, which will eventually include his good friend Bronson.
“Yeah, it’s going to be kind of weird," said Fabuluje about the prospect of bringing up Bronson in a couple of years. “It’s crazy to think, but I’ll already have been here for two years, so I’ll have to show him the ropes and hopefully, by the time he returns, I’ll have proved myself as an important part of this team.”
The closeness of the 2010 class extends far beyond just a couple of friendships, as Fabuluje and many others have forged strong relationships with just about every single one of their fellow signees.
“Everyone knows each other and even if they don’t, we bring them in and just like Bronson did with me when I first got here," explained Fabuluje. “It was great seeing so many guys there this past weekend, guys like Blair [Tushaus], Sae [Tautu], Jordan [Black]. There were a lot of guys out there and I was able to meet up with Collin Keoshian too and he’s just awesome. You could tell he was having a great time.”
While most of the members of the 2010 class has yet to join the program, three of them have already done so. Jake Heaps, Joshua Quezada and Ross Apo enrolled midyear and have been with the team since January. For Fabuluje, it was great to see all three fully entrenched within the program and he’s been taking ready notes from them so that he can see as much success as possible the second he arrives on campus.
“I obviously talk to Ross probably the most and he lets me know everything," Fabuluje related. “He tells me to make sure I’m as ready physically as I can possibly be. That is probably the most important thing as far as football goes. But also, he tells me that BYU is great, just so long as you do what you’re supposed to do. He loves it at BYU and it’s everything he thought it would be. He loves his classes a lot and really talked a lot about his teachers and what teachers I should take classes from. It’s just great having him there already, so that I’ll be more ready when I get there.”
The final spring practice itself, along with the kid’s clinic held before the open practice at LaVell Edwards Stadium, was a highlight for Fabuluje and the rest of the incoming players.
“I love how BYU does that sort of stuff and I loved having all the great fans come up to me, asking to take my picture with their kids,” he said. “I loved it, I truly did. I also loved watching the team and I can see myself fitting in real good with what they do. I just need to be ready. I’m very happy for Ross, Jake and the others that they’re doing so well already. I just want to do as well as they are. I can’t wait to get there.”
Fubuluje has yet to decide when he’ll arrive at BYU. He would like to get to Provo soon after graduation to participate in offseason workouts, among other things, so he can be as ready as possible by the time August rolls around. Whether he’ll be able to do so remains to be decided.
“Right now, I’m looking to get a place that Bronco Mendenhall will approve," he explained. “It’s tough, because it’s hard to ask people, but hopefully I can find someone to live with over the summer that is approved by coach. If not, I’ll get there the first week of August, but I definitely don’t want to wait so long. Hopefully things can work out there.”