BOUNTIFUL — BYU received a football commitment from Bountiful High School linebacker Rylee Gautavai late last week after he took several unofficial visits to the Cougars' campus. Gautavai is a 6-foot-2 athlete who hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Bountiful great Cameron Jensen.
Gautavai cites Jensen, who starred at BYU from 2004-06, as a hero of his growing up and as someone he's tried to emulate at both Bountiful and now, hopefully, at BYU. After starring for the Braves and leading the team with 116 tackles this past season, he appears well on his way.
BYU coaches became aware of Gautavai when he attended the school's junior day. They didn't immediately offer him a scholarship after his performance, but kept him in mind and stayed in contact.
Gautavai made sure to send film to coaches of his senior season, and they responded with a scholarship offer. He immediately accepted.
"BYU is really the only school I've ever wanted to play for," Gautavai said. "I went to all their games growing up. My whole family are big BYU fans. And I love the school, the coaches. I love everything, so I immediately accepted their offer."
Coaches invited Gautavai to come down to football practice this past Wednesday and then extended another invitation the very next day for him to visit with head coach Bronco Mendenhall. He was encouraged to bring his family.
"When I received word they wanted to meet with me and my family, I got so excited because I sort of knew an offer could be coming," said Gautavai. "Coaches offered me shortly after my visit and I didn't have to think at all about accepting it. I committed right after they gave it to me and I couldn't be happier."
Gautavai had also received interest from schools such as Utah State, Arizona and Utah, but BYU was the first school to offer him. He plans on serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before enrolling at BYU and will likely leave this coming June.
From now until then, he aims to increase his strength in hopes of becoming the type of player Jensen was for the Cougars.
"My coach tells me that I remind him of Cameron Jensen and that's just such an honor to be compared with such a great player," Gautavai said. "I can't wait to play for BYU and I know I need to get bigger to play middle linebacker, but that shouldn't be a problem. It's such an honor for me and my family to be offered by a school like BYU and I just love everything about the program. I love how they play football and I love how they represent the LDS church."
ONE IN AND ONE OUT?: Recruiting is a fluid process, and while the grand majority of prospects hold their commits, some do not. BYU appears to be on the cusp of losing its very first commit of the 2013 class, Brayden Kearsley.
The four-star prospect from Beaverton, Ore., recently opened up his recruitment and lists Oregon State as his new favorite, according to Chris Fetters of scout.com. Kearsley still lists BYU as a possibility, but will take official trips to Oregon State, Arizona State, Washington and UCLA.