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East’s Vakapuna is Y.-bound

Leopards’ RB attracted by BYU’s offense

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BYU football coach Gary Crowton can thank his high-powered offensive attack that led the nation in scoring for landing one of Utah's top recruits.

The same offense that landed the nation's top quarterback recruit in the country in Ben Olson of Thousand Oaks, Calif., now has East High running back Taufui Vakapuna in the fold.

The 6-foot, 205-pound Vakapuna verbally committed to play football for the Cougars. Along with the BYU offense that was second to Florida in total offense, eighth in passing and 18th rushing, Vakapuna said the proximity to his home and family and the overall atmosphere at BYU drew him there.

Mountain Crest's Jake Kuresa, Kearns' Paulo Fuaalli and Brighton's Bryan Kehl have also committed to play at BYU.

"Hopefully I can help them (the Cougars) out if I get the chance," Vakapuna said. "Watching their offense make great and amazing plays made me lean towards going there."

Vakapuna made many great plays himself as a running back, receiver and kick and punt returner for the Leopards.

In earning Deseret News first-team all-state honors, the three-year starter amassed 2,559 all-purpose yards in his senior season. He rushed for 1,107 yards, caught 20 passes for 205 yards and added 954 punt-return yards and 293 kickoff-return yards. He scored 12 offensive touchdowns.

Defensively, he had 41 tackles, three interceptions and two defensive TDs.

Vakapuna was also being recruited by Utah and Nebraska.

He adds his name to the long list of Utah high school seniors to commit to Division I programs. Millard's Jason Boone, Granger's Nano Tonga, Viewmont's Robbie Crockett and Brighton's Andrew Smart have committed to the University of Utah, while Hunter's Tarell Richards is going to the University of Oregon.

Two more of the state's top recruits have yet to commit. Highland's Haloti Ngata committed to the University of Nebraska last month but has since changed his mind and is looking closely at Oregon, BYU and Nebraska. Northridge wide receiver Daniel Coats is looking at Colorado, Michigan, BYU and North Carolina State.

The first official signing day is Feb. 6.


E-MAIL: jhinton@desnews.com