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July 9, 2012Kuj Tapusoa has known about BYU his whole life. His uncles are former Cougar greats Mark Atuaia and Itula Mili. And his cousins are current Cougars Jray Galea'I and Sae Tautu and former Cougar Shiloh Te'o with whom he is living with in Hawaii currently.
Kuj whose full name is Johnny Tapusao goes by Kuj (koo-jay). He is a 5'11 195 lb cornerback and is being recruited to play boundary corner and nickel back.
Kuj is from Kahuku High in Laie, Hawaii. Kahuku has had a long tie in with BYU; in fact, of the relatives named earlier, all but Sae attended Kahuku.
The first time Kuj met a coach from the BYU staff was when he was 10 years old. Bronco Mendenhall was down in Hawaii on a recruiting trip to visit Shiloh Te'o when a young 10 year old approached him.
"I was in shock talking to him, because I had my hat and my book ready for him to sign." said Kuj with laughter. "And he told me when I get to that age that he would personally recruit me."
Kuj was also hearing from Colorado, Weber State, Utah State, Arizona State and San Diego State. BYU was the most desirous offer for him and also the first offer he received. He talked about the method of recruitment that Bronco and the staff used.
"They would ask me why I wanted to come to BYU. Cause I always wanted to come, because I never felt this way about a school before. Because the gospel is so important to them, and it's always first and that's why I loved the school. They never really told me why I should come; they would mostly ask why I wanted to come to BYU."
Those are some of the reasons why he wanted to come to BYU. He also likes the atmosphere and the feel of Provo. Though I would think they would be totally opposite, sandy beach - Rocky Mountains, no snow - lots of snow, Mele Kalikimaka - Merry Christmas. But I've never been to Laie and apparently there are some similarities.
"I have a lot of family there, but the bigger reason being Laie is a small town and everyone is a member of the church and Provo reminds me of Laie and I really like the feeling being over there. It reminds me of home, it reminds me of Laie."
Kuj had attended the BYU summer camp for several years in a row. Every year he hoped to get an offer but came away with the same results. Coaches said they're watching him closely and maybe next year. Before this last year of BYU summer camp he attended the All Poly Camp where he hyper extended his elbow. He then came to the BYU camp, not at 100%, where he suffered a concussion.
While sitting with the trainer and feeling down on the camp, Coach Mendenhall came up to him and told him to meet him at his office at 12:30.
When the time came he entered the office to find Coach Mendenhall, Coach Howell, Kuj's older brother and his younger cousin.
"Bronco didn't talk about football one time, until the very end. He talked about the gospel the whole time. And it really brought the spirit in the room. And then towards the end he said Kuj I want you on my team. I want you to walk on. And after I heard him say walk on I just kind of dropped. But then he said he wanted me to walk on and then when I got back from my mission they'd have a scholarship for me. And then I just started crying, my brother started crying and even Coach Howell started to cry."
Kuj looks forward to continuing the tradition of good football players from Kahuku to BYU. Right now he wants to continue to work hard and get ready for his senior season.