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Utes, Cougars football recruit wants ‘family atmosphere’

Liona Lefau, a linebacker from Hawaii, is considering playing for the University of Utah and BYU

(Liona Lefau) Linebacker Liona Lefau out of Kahuku High School in Hawaii has Utah and BYU among his top eight schools.

A linebacker who plays his prep football in Hawaii might be gracing Utah with his presence within the next two years.

Liona Lefau, a four-star recruit out of Kahuku High School, has the University of Utah and BYU among his top eight schools. He visited Utah earlier this month. The rising senior is also considering USC, Texas, Oregon, Oklahoma, Michigan and Washington.

Lefau, who is also ranked 24th in ESPN’s list of top outside linebackers, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition to looking for a university that provides elite defensive schemes and coaches, he wants where he chooses to play and attend to have a “family atmosphere.”

“Family is like if I feel like I’m at home and stuff, feel good around the people, feel like I can be the best version of me, pretty much, and not have to worry about anything,” Lefau told The Salt Lake Tribune, adding that he also wants a school with a clear culture and tradition of success.

Lefau said what has surprised him the most about the recruiting process has been navigating the new name, image and likeness rules and what each university offers in that regard. He said if he had to decide between two schools that offered all the things he wanted, the difference in NIL offerings could be a tiebreaker.

“It’s not I don’t factor it in as much as defense — their schemes and their coaches — [and] the family atmosphere,” Lefau said of how heavily he is weighing NIL into his decision. “But it is something cool to think about. Because everybody has good NIL deals, but some people have really good [ones].”

Lefau said he is not planning on going on a mission after high school, which means he would be available to his chosen university immediately, unlike many other LDS athletes. He added that every school he is seriously considering knows about and respects his faith.

Lefau has family and friends in Utah. With that and his membership in the church, the Beehive State could be a serious contender for his services.

“I think that could factor into the family atmosphere,” Lefau said.

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