When former BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia was a third-grader in Miss Belnap’s class at Lehi’s Fox Hollow Elementary, the teacher asked every student to go in front of the group and tell everybody what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Suamataia boldly proclaimed that he would be a professional football player in the NFL.

“Everybody started laughing,” he said.

Look who’s laughing now at the would-be doctors, lawyers and chefs. That would be the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Suamataia (pronounced: sue-uh-mah-tah-ee-uh), expected by most prognosticators to be taken late in the first round or in the second round of this week’s NFL draft in Detroit.

“It has been a lot of hard work, a lot of training, a lot of traveling across the world,” Suamataia told the Deseret News last week. “But it has been nothing but a big blessing to not only me, but my future family and also my family right now. There are a lot of emotions, a lot of mixed emotions. But at the end of the day, wherever I get called, that team won’t regret it.”

Nor does Suamataia regret forgoing his final season of eligibility at BYU to enter the draft, which he did on Dec. 13, 2023, a couple weeks after BYU’s season ended with a 40-34 loss in double overtime to Oklahoma State.

“It is time to take the next step and chase my dream of playing in the NFL,” Suamataia wrote in a graphic posted on X. “It is time to honor the name on the back of my jersey and represent my parents, sisters, fiancee, and all my family.”

Upon declaring for the draft, Suamataia chose the agency Athletes First to represent him, mostly because of family ties. His cousins, Chicago Bears linebacker Noah Sewell and Detroit Lions offensive lineman Penei Sewell, are also with agent Justin Schulman and Athletes First.

“I have known them for a long time and was always going to choose them,” Suamataia said. “I can’t think of any better.”

Then Suamataia went to work, training in Orange County, California, with other top prospects such as LSU receiver Brian Thomas, Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen and Oklahoma offensive linemen Tyler Guyton and Andrew Raym.

What made BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia almost grab the top spot on the ‘Freaks List’?

“The process has been crazy,” Suamataia said. “I am just trying to stay level-headed, not get too excited, not get too stressed out. It is definitely a big blessing and a big life dream of mine to get my name called. I am trying to be where my feet are every day until the day comes and my name is called.”

What will that day be like? The first round of the draft will be held Thursday, while the second and third rounds are Friday and the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds are Saturday.

Suamataia said he will watch the draft from his family’s home in Utah County with his fiancee, former BYU women’s basketball player Nani Falatea, and her parents. Falatea is currently in the transfer portal and hasn’t decided yet where she will play next.

“No big party, nothing like that,” Suamataia said. “Just me and the people closest to me.”

Showing out at the NFL Scouting Combine

Suamataia checked in at No. 3 on Bruce Feldman’s annual college football “Freaks List” last August, behind only South Carolina receiver Nyckoles Harbor and Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., and was voted a captain by his teammates for the 2023 season. He earned second-team All-Big 12 honors.

At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, he ran a 5.04-second 40-yard dash, put up 31 bench presses and a 1.74 time in the 10-yard split. His vertical jump was 28 inches and his broad jump was 9 feet, 2 inches.

BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia (78) cools off on the sideline during the second quarter of an NCAA football game against Kansas on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 in Lawrence, Kan. | Colin E. Braley, Associated Press

“It was a dream as a kid to be running on TV, so that was really fun,” he said. “I got to be there with a lot of boys that I knew from different colleges, so it was really cool.”

After BYU wrapped up spring practices on March 30, head coach Kalani Sitake said whichever NFL team takes Suamataia will get a hard-working, driven athlete with a lot of upside.

“We talk about putting guys into the NFL all the time,” Sitake said. “I want to put as many of our guys into the league as possible, so I am excited for Kingsley. … The hard part is that Kingsley still had a couple years left to play. … But I have to be able to support them in what they want to get done.”

After the NFL talent gathering in Indianapolis — BYU punter Ryan Rehkow and quarterback Kedon Slovis were also invited — Suamataia went out on the traveling circuit, visiting about 10 NFL teams and participating in Zoom calls with a bunch of others.

Which teams showed the most interest?

“Shoot, I would say all of them,” he said. “There were a lot of great teams I went to, so a lot of them showed great interest. I wouldn’t say there is one more than another. … I didn’t have a favorite. It was just a blessing being there. I can’t really choose favorites at this point. Just grateful for the process.”

Looking ahead to the NFL

Suamataia calls himself a “true left tackle,” but acknowledges he could play right tackle as well, if called upon. He played right tackle his first season at BYU (Blake Freeland of the Indianapolis Colts was the starting left tackle in 2022) and then moved over to the other side and flourished there.

A five-star recruit out of Orem High, where he led the Tigers to four-straight state championships, Suamataia began his college career at Oregon, but redshirted in 2021 after appearing in only one game for the Ducks.

BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia declares for 2024 NFL draft

At Oregon, his roommate was Malaesala “Sala” Aumavae-Laulu, now an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.

But Suamataia didn’t have a favorite team growing up, instead focusing on emulating great players such as Orlando Pace back in the day and now current stars such as his cousin Penei Sewell, Trent Williams of the San Francisco 49ers and Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Suamataia said it is “going to be a big blessing to have money,” but isn’t really thinking about what his first big purchase will be. He plans to invest most of his NFL salary, and not rush out and buy a fancy car or truck to replace the Ford F150 pickup he currently drives around Orem.

“Probably around that second contract, I am going to buy my mom (Tamara) a new house,” he said. “I guess that is the only big thing on my mind right now.”

Is Suamataia a first-rounder?

Quarterback Zach Wilson was the last former BYU player to be drafted in the first round, taken by the New York Jets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft. Will Suamataia be the next?

Nobody really knows.

A consensus survey of most mock drafts puts Suamataia somewhere in the second round, although The Ringer’s Danny Kelly has the the big man going to the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Andy Reid with the last pick, No. 32, of the first round.

“The process has been crazy.I am just trying to stay level-headed, not get too excited, not get too stressed out. It is definitely a big blessing and a big life dream of mine to get my name called. I am trying to be where my feet are every day until the day comes and my name is called.”

—  BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia

“The Chiefs desperately need to add depth and talent to their offensive line, and do so here with Suamataia,” Kelly wrote. “He has experience starting at both tackle spots and has the body type to fill in at guard in a pinch.”

Besides, Reid loves to put former BYU stars on his roster.

One of the pre-eminent draft analysts, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., has Suamataia going to the Chiefs as well, but with the 64th overall pick, the final pick of the second round.

“With 2023 starter Donovan Smith unsigned, the Chiefs have Wanya Morris at left tackle but not much else,” Kiper wrote. “They should bring in competition. Suamataia, my No. 9 OT in this class, took snaps at both left and right tackle in college, but he made huge strides while playing on the left side last season. He’s strong and quick, and he has the feet to get to the second level in the run game.”

Dane Brugler of The Athletic has Suamataia as the 40th best prospect in the draft, and writes, “Suamataia is still very young and lacks refinement in several areas, but his blend of size, mobility and core power are the foundation of a scheme-diverse NFL starter. He will require a patient coaching staff who can ease his transition to the pro level.”

All that said, Brugler has Suamataia going to the New England Patriots with the second pick of the second round, No. 34 overall.

The Athletic also has BYU’s Rehkow going in the seventh round to the Cincinnati Bengals.

BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Indianapolis. | Darron Cummings