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How the Nacua brothers ended up at BYU to play football for the Cougars

Samson Nacua immediately bolsters BYU depth at wide receiver; Puka Nacua won’t be available until 2022

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Utah wide receiver Samson Nacua (45) reaches for a pass against UCLA in the first half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

Following a spring practice session earlier this week, BYU football coach Kalani Sitake was asked about the possibility of adding more players to the roster through the transfer portal. The sixth-year coach said his staff is always recruiting, but made no mention of news that broke later that evening.

Brothers Samson and Puka Nacua, wide receivers from the University of Utah and University of Washington, respectively, announced via their social media Monday night of their commitment to transfer to BYU.

It was a prime example of Sitake’s recruiting mentality.

As long as the portal is available, his staff will continue to monitor it and keep an eye out for talent that would be a good fit at BYU. In this case, the receivers made themselves available through the portal and are arriving as a package deal.

“Even with it being a dead period — it seems it keeps getting extended — we’re going to do as much as we can,” Sitake said. “Recruiting always happens; it’s a year-round thing. I’m always looking to improve our team and get it better, and I think there’s a lot of guys that I think fit our program and we’ll just keep working with that.”

Samson Nacua played in 45 career games for the Utes, hauling in 82 passes for 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Puka Nacua caught 16 passes for 319 yards and three scores in six games between the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

(Ted S. Warren | AP) Washington wide receiver Puka Nacua in action against Hawaii during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Seattle.

Older brother Samson will be immediately eligible for the 2021 season. Puka Nacua will sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.

However, with the official paperwork not yet signed, BYU passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake couldn’t share much about the unofficial additions.

“We’re recruiting guys — we can confirm recruitment and interest, but until certain papers are signed and things are official, we can’t really talk too much about it,” Fesi Sitake said.

But it is clear the Nacua brothers will be a welcome addition, particularly as the Cougars adjust to a post-Zach Wilson era.

Besides losing the former starting quarterback early to the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cougars also lost their top receiver Dax Milne. The junior accumulated 1,188 yards and eight touchdowns on 70 receptions during the 2020 season.

Milne was backed up by Gunner Romney, who brought in 767 yards and two touchdowns on 39 catches, and is returning and expected to have another big season. The Cougars have another top receiver returning in Neil Pau’u.

Then there’s also tight end Isaac Rex, who had a breakout freshman season in wake of Matt Bushman’s season-ending injury just days before the 2020 season was expected to start. Rex caught for 429 yards and a team-high 12 touchdowns on 37 receptions.

Regardless of who wins the quarterback battle, which seems to be between Baylor Romney, Jaren Hall, Jacob Conover and Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, they will have an arsenal of different targets.

As far as dealing with players choosing to transfer in or out of the BYU program, junior defensive lineman Lorenzo Fauatea said he understands there’s always a lot of different reasons a player may have to want to transfer. Either way, the Cougars would welcome anyone to their program.

“I think [transfering is] more of the personal stuff and what they feel is right for themselves and their future,” Fauatea said “… For players who are coming in, it’s just all welcome hands, welcoming them in and just being part of our team.”

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