As BYU was announcing its 2015 recruiting class, one player stood out.
The player was Motekiai Langi, listed at 6-7 and 410 pounds. Yes, he had the best rap video from the BYU coaches' YouTube rap concert on National Signing Day, but many were in awe of his gargantuan size.
— BYU Football (@BYUfootball) February 4, 2015
According to BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, Langi was first noticed by a BYU assistant coach while Langi was playing pickup basketball in his native Tonga. And Mendenhall said he hasn't known Langi for very long (15 minutes!), though he was willing to give him a chance based off his size and favorable review from the basketball game.
"I’ve known him a total of 15 minutes," Mendenhall said. "His evaluation was based on [defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi] seeing him play a pickup game of basketball in Tonga two years ago. And he just saw a giant body that’s light on his feet and could change direction and loved working out and training. And so the day before Motekiai was leaving for his mission — he is a relative to Harvey Langi. Same last name, so I can’t trace exactly how that, I don’t know the exact relation — but he stops in at BYU before he goes to the MTC the next day.
"So I now get a chance to to see what Coach Kaufusi told me about and that’s something different. So me telling you he’s 6-7 and 410 pounds is one thing. If you were to see him, that impact was – it’s not a fat 410, it’s a solid, like lean isn’t the right word — it is a solid looking, healthy, giant man. And when I shook his hand his hand went almost up to my elbow. And I was like how can this guy not be something? I had no intention of offering a scholarship. I was just anxious to meet him and then say maybe after your mission let's give this football thing a try and you can walk on. I've never done anything like this before."
He offered Langi a scholarship and Langi will start out at defensive tackle. Yes, he'll be playing the same position as the New England Patriots' Vince Wilfork. But only bigger.
"We're going to play him at nose tackle first and we normally require a two-gap player that can play -- be big enough and strong enough to handle both A gaps -- he might be a three-gap player. Maybe we'll just have him lay sideways on the snap and just block the whole thing out. But there's got to be some way he can do something. It will be fun."
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