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3-star linebacker Ephraim Asiata, one of Utah’s top prospects, announces his college choice

Asiata chooses BYU over USC, Utah and others.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Uncle Muka Atiga throws his arms up in joking despair at having to cheer for BYU as his nephew Ephraim Asiata gets ready to sign his letter of commitment to play football for the Cougars on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. The 3-star linebacker, one of Utah’s top prospects, made his choice, causing many of the Utah supporters in his family to joke about having to cheer for the rivalry team.

West Jordan • One of the state’s top uncommitted players finally has a college destination.

Ephraim Asiata — a top 15 player in Utah, according to 247Sports’ Composite rankings — committed to BYU Tuesday night. He chose the Cougars over USC, Utah and several other Power Five schools.

It represents one of defensive coordinator Jay Hill’s biggest recruiting wins since he arrived in Provo last December. It also bolsters the linebacker recruiting pipeline that has slowed at BYU in recent years.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ephraim Asiata, a top 15 player in Utah, joins his father Matt Asiata, a former NFL running back, and University of Utah player as he introduces his son’s choice of playing for BYU while surrounded by friends and family in West Jordan on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023.

Asiata is the son of former NFL running back, and University of Utah product, Matt Asiata. He played for the Minnesota Vikings for several seasons and bounced around professional football until 2019.

Matt Asiata grew up in West Valley City, playing at Hunter High School. Ephraim Asiata originally followed in his father’s footsteps playing at Hunter and becoming one the best players in the state.

But on Jan. 13, 2022, Asiata was injured in a shooting just outside the high school, which left him in critical condition and killed two of his classmates.

Doctors at the time gave Asiata a “1% chance” to live, his uncle said. He spent nearly a month in the hospital but eventually recovered.

Asiata sat out the entire 2022 football season as he recovered and then transferred to Herriman High School his senior year. In 10 games, he recored over 50 tackles and nine sacks.