Provo • It has been a dismal season so far for the BYU football team, but one Cougar in particular refuses to let the 1-4 start and blowout losses to Wisconsin and LSU get him down.
Just being able to don a blue and white uniform and represent BYU is a thrill for senior safety Marvin Hifo, a late addition to the 2017 roster after transferring from Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) College over the summer.
“This is everything I wanted,” Hifo said. “I am taking advantage of every opportunity I get, and I am grateful for it.”
Hifo, a walk-on, led the Cougars in tackles against LSU with 10 and is 10th on the team with 18 total takedowns. Safeties coach Ed Lamb agreed when it was suggested Hifo has been a pleasant surprise for the defense.
“That’s a good phrase to describe it, yes,” Lamb said.
Hifo is the older brother of sophomore receiver Aleva Hifo, who is on scholarship. He’s the cousin of star BYU defensive end Sione Takitaki, which is actually how the native of Menifee, Calif., became acquainted with BYU.
“They weren’t on my radar until my cousin Bubba [Takitaki] came,” Marvin Hifo said. “I started watching their games, and of course my brother ended up coming here, too. When I was going to graduate from junior college, my dad and coaches contacted them and told them I needed a place to play, and BYU was the only school that gave me the opportunity to walk on. I am so thankful for that.”
BYU SAFETY MARVIN HIFO
• Walked on after transferring from Mt. San Jacinto College.
• Older brother of BYU receiver Aleva Hifo.
• Led team with 10 tackles in 27-0 loss to LSU.
• Ranks 10th on the team in total tackles with 18.
His junior college coach was Casey Mazzotta, a former BYU star who played with Lamb and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer.
“He had Casey’s recommendation, and he’s done a tremendous job,” Lamb said. “He is one of the best tacklers on our team. I love him.”
Hifo didn’t see time at safety in last week’s 40-24 loss to Utah State but still made two tackles on special teams. He started in the game against Wisconsin because junior Zayne Anderson was out with an ankle injury. He made four tackles in the loss.
“He is doing really well,” Lamb said, noting that he didn’t rotate safeties because Micah Hannemann and Anderson were playing well and the defense wasn’t on the field for long stretches. “I am still highly confident in his ability to come in and play well.”
Hifo started training camp at free safety then was moved to strong safety for a while. But when the season started, Lamb put him back at free safety, and he’s flourished there.
“I am doing whatever they want me to do, really,” Hifo said.
That includes taking care of his business in the classroom, Lamb said.
“When a guy can come from out of nowhere, work his way onto the field and deliver, that takes so much character,” Lamb said. “There are a lot of guys on the team who are wanting more of a role, and so when a guy like that can set a great example, starting from zero, having no role or spot on the team, questionable to even come to training camp, and then work himself into what we consider a starting player, and then deliver, it is just a tremendous [show] of his character.”
With two sons playing for BYU now, Lesieli and Petelo Hifo moved their entire family to Provo.
“I like it so far,” Marvin said. “The people are nice. Really nice. It is nothing like California, man. But once the bad weather comes, it is going to be interesting for me, with the snow and all. I don’t like that so much.”
Everything else is perfect though — except the Cougars’ record.