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BYU coach Mark Atuaia on island searching for football talent

Brigham Young University (BYU) Football Running Back Coach Mark Atuaia is on island at this time visiting high schools to recruit some local talent to attend BYU on football scholarships.


“I'm here to see if I can get some of these players to come to BYU,” said Atuaia. “There are opportunities out there and more and more folks will come to see these players — and they have to be ready not only on the football field, but ready with their academics as well.”


Atuaia, who was born in Hawai’i and raised in American Samoa, started his career at BYU in 1991, but soon thereafter went on his LDS church mission. He played for the Cougars in 1992 and 94-96, finishing with a 14-1 record his Senior year.


He stated that the students must also meet their academic criteria, as they need at least a 19 on their ACT and have a 3.3 grade point average (GPA).


“This should not discourage them, because if they have the ambition and really want it, I know they can make it,” he said. He reminded Samoa News of Shaun Nua from American Samoa who played for BYU and went on to play in the National Football League (NFL) for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills.


“Shaun is a real success story. He was born here in American Samoa, and played for BYU and the NFL.” Shaun, who is the son of Senator Nua Saoluaga Nua of Manu’a District #1 and currently Pro Temp President of the Senate, is now working on his Masters Degree at BYU and is the Defensive Line Coach at the Naval Academy.


Atuaia said that he's glad to see that football is now being taught to the younger kids here in the territory through leagues such as the AYFS and the ESYFL. “I think this is great that the younger kids are being taught the game at a young age. This way they can learn the basic fundamentals and have that down pretty well by the time they get into high school. Starting at a young age to learn the game, it gets them used to moving and working on their techniques,” he said.


The BYU Running Back coach will be traveling to Samoa today to check out some of the players there, where the game of American football is being taught by former NFL player Frank Manumaleuna to the young Samoa players.


“Hopefully this trip here will be a successful one. I can’t wait to talk to some of the coaches. Today is the first day of the recruiting season for the NCAA and I wanted to start here in American Samoa,” said Atuaia.


Atuaia has a Juris Doctorate Degree in Law and a Masters in Business. He also works alongside another coach of Samoan descent, Robert Anae who is the Offensive Coordinator for the BYU Cougars football team.