A few years back Siale Esera took a trip with his eighth-grade Timpview basketball team to Utah State University for a weekend camp.
After the Thunderhatchlings finished hooping, some Aggies football coaches got Esera’s attention and asked if he could come down to the gridiron. It turned out that USU was holding a football camp that same weekend. The coaches asked Esera to run some drills. Although he was still in his basketball sneakers, he obliged.
After the drills were over, Utah State offered Esera a full-ride scholarship for football. The only thing was: He had never played a real game of football in his life.
“I loved football and I’ve always wanted to play football, but my dad kept me out until my freshman year of high school,” Esera said.
Esera, now a 6-foot-3, 240-pound senior middle linebacker with the Thunderbirds, has the attention of a lot of football coaches now. The four-star composite prospect, currently ranked No. 8 overall in the state, has offers from more than 20 schools, including Utah and BYU.
But on Saturday, Esera made his choice: He’s going to be a Cougar.
After that first offer from the Aggies came, the others started flooding in as he racked up accolades at camp after camp and honed his game at the high school level — including his selection for the 2023 Polynesian Bowl.
Esera has not taken any official visits, he said. He planned to do so at UCLA in the first week of December, Tennessee, Nebraska, Oregon and Stanford. But Esera decided to make his choice Saturday night, in honor of his father’s birthday.
Esera said he has “loved” both BYU and Utah since he was young. His parents are Utah alumni, he said. BYU linebacker Keenan Pili is his cousin.
“The rivalry is very heavily situated into those two schools,” Esera said of BYU and Utah. “They are heated against each other. You can really see.”
At BYU, Esera liked the direction of the program that will be in the Big 12 in a year’s time. He also referenced the atmosphere he feels the Cougars have created.
“BYU was amazing,” Esera said. “It was good to see the culture that Kalani and his coaching staff has put up there. I feel like them being in a new conference this upcoming year will be a great move for them.”
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