Neil Pau’u, up-and-coming football receiver, pleads not guilty to drunken driving

(Chris Detrick | Tribune file photo) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Neil Pau'u (84) runs for a touchdown past Portland State Vikings linebacker Sam Bodine (36) during the game at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday, August 26, 2017.

Provo • A BYU football player who was expected to play a significant role this year has been accused of driving drunk on campus last week, and he pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to the class B misdemeanor, according to documents filed in Provo City Justice Court.

Neil Pau’u, a rising junior receiver, was arrested on suspicion of DUI by a BYU police officer just after midnight on June 8 after he allegedly attempted to drive through a barricaded road near the Smith Fieldhouse, according to an incident report obtained from BYU police through a government open records request.

Pau’u did not participate in BYU’s Football Media Day interviews Tuesday and his status on the team is unclear.

“We are aware of the situation and [are] looking into it,” BYU football spokesman Brett Pyne said in a written statement. He offered no other details.

Head coach Kalani Sitake and several players were traveling to New York City for a charity event presented by the coach’s More2Life Foundation on Thursday.

According to the police report, Pau’u, 23, drove through and ran over “the candle sticks and yellow tape that were used to close the road for road repair” and submitted to a chemical breath test after the officer “could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the vehicle,” a 2015 Kia Cadenza.

A test administered at the Utah County jail showed Pau’u had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.147, well above the legal limit of 0.05, according to the report.

Pau’u was “very cooperative” and told the officer he had consumed two “jungle juices” — described as a mixture of assorted alcohols and sugary drinks such as fruit juices or Kool-Aid — according to the report.

Pau’u on Wednesday also pleaded not guilty to a class C misdemeanor charge of interfering with traffic signs/signals. He does not have any previous arrests in Utah, according to a search of court records.

A pretrial conference has been scheduled for July 22, a week before players are scheduled to report for preseason training camp.

Pau’u’s profile page on BYU’s website says he is from Santa Ana, Calif., and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City after graduating from Servite High School in Orange County, Calif.

The 6-foot-4, 223-pound receiver is the younger brother of former BYU linebacker Butch Pau’u.

Neil Pau’u was a quarterback in high school but walked on as a receiver at BYU in 2017 and has played for two seasons. He caught 14 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman, including a 28-yard touchdown reception in his college debut against Portland State.

He started in three games last season and played in 13, catching 18 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. He caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the 35-27 loss at Utah.

Pau’u is listed as a second-string receiver on the depth chart in BYU’s 2019 media guide.