Interview: Getting to Know Former USC commit, Now BYU Signee Keanu Saleapaga
By Josh Cann
One of the surprise signees BYU received on National Signing Day was former USC Defensive Line commit Keanu Saleapaga. He played his high school ball at La Mirada, CA which is in Southern California. He’s 6’6, 265, and a 3-star guy according to Scout.com.
“Sarkisian was the one that offered me, so when he left USC, there wasn’t much communication with the remaining staff, so I decommitted from USC and opened my recruitment.” Saleapaga said.
His list of offers had six Power 5 schools, five of which were in the Pac 12 including Oregon St, Arizona, Arizona St., USC, & Colorado. He also had offers from the Big 12’s Texas Tech, and then Boise St, Hawaii, San Jose St, and BYU to round out his list of offers.
Coach Tuiaki was the one that recruited him to BYU. Tuiaki had no previous contact with him while he was at Oregon St nor anyone else on the current BYU staff prior to his decommitment from USC.
Before his official visit on January 29th, Saleapaga had never been on the BYU campus, but has watched the Cougars on TV. He has family in Provo but had just never been to the campus.
“When Sitake and Tuiaki came to my house and talked to me and my family they just felt that I needed to be a high priority for the program (BYU) to build his future on.” Saleapaga said.
His recruitment boiled down to two teams, BYU and Colorado leading up to Signing Day.
“Colorado was my first official visit ever. They recruited me more than the other schools, and showed they really wanted me, they were up there with BYU in that regard, I took a trip up there and loved it more than I expected.” Saleapaga said.
Keanu Saleapaga is friends with Notre Dame Tight End transfer Tyler Luatua. They went to the same high school at La Mirada in California. Saleapaga knew Luatua was transferring to BYU before he made his final decision to come to BYU over Colorado.
Saleapaga played Defensive End in High School and is also being recruited as the same at the college level, however, is open to switching positions.
“Every coach that recruited me told me that I’ll start at Defensive End, but some have said the way my frame looks I’ll end up going inside on the D-Line to be a Tackle.” Saleapaga said.
Saleapaga prides himself on playing his own way, in his own style.
“I just try to go out there, listen to what my coaches say, and what I was brought up to do by my uncles and my dad, and be myself out there and play how I was taught to. I don’t really try to play like anyone else or try to model myself after anyone else’s game.” Saleapaga said.
Saleapaga is not LDS, but is Christian, and will be able to play right away in the 2016 season.