BYU fans who follow recruiting have known about Trajan Pili for a long time. He committed after his sophomore year when he was a standout player at both BYU's camp and the All-Poly camp that summer. BYU fans have known about Trajan Pili, but do they know the new and improved Trajan Pili that signed his letter of intent yesterday?
Today's Trajan Pili has cut his 40 time by 2 tenths of a second since his commitment, from a 4.88 down into the 4.6's. This modern version of Trajan Pili has also put on 10 pounds of muscle, getting him up to 225-pounds with his 6-foot-2 frame. Despite the added weight he also cut his shuttle time by 2 tenths of a second to a 4.32, and upped his vertical 2 inches to 30-inches as well. Those are the numbers of a true freshman who is starting to look like he is ready to play at the division 1 level.
"From my knowledge it's going to depend on how much work I put in over the summer and during training camp, I'm ready to go right into it and make a name for myself and just work my very best to get in on special teams or get on the two deep depth chart. As far as redshirting, I'm not really sure yet, it's up to Coach Mendenhall, but I'm hoping to get on the field this coming season. Basically they just want me to come up and see how good I work, they just want to see what I can do. I'll be coming into a new position at outside linebacker having played defensive end in high school. They just want to see me work and they'll determine all of the decisions."
With how hard Pili has worked to get to where he is, making a position change from defensive end to Will outside linebacker at BYU is going to feel like a walk in the park for him.
"I do have some experience in going out in coverage, I was more of a hybrid on my team, so it's not a new position. I'm just trying to get some new drills in and get the defense down. I'm ready to put a bunch of work in this summer, I'm really excited."
"They just want us to be ready to work this summer, so that means it's running, lifting, getting your mind right, trying to learn the defense so you have some knowledge when you get into training camp so you can do your best. Overall that's all I know so far and I'm just putting in the work so I can be ready."
Pili has never been anything but ready to play. With Trajan being one of the 5 fastest players on his high school team at 225-pounds, he found a lot of success this last year.
"Overall my senior year went really well, I was all-conference at tight end and defensive end and I was first team all-state as a defensive end. My team lost in the regional finals to Bishop Gorman."
Even against the nation's elite players Pili has found that his preparation has him step for step with the best.
"At the Nike Camp in California, Michael Hutchings (4* 6th ranked OLB, Rivals 100, USC commit) and I were always going at one another and I think I was doing well with him, personally I think I was just as good as him in my opinion."
"On January 6th I played in the Team USA vs British Columbia game, it was right after the Army All-American game, same deal. It was a really fun experience, they did everything that the Army All-Americans did, but we were just playing in a different game. Unfortunately we didn't come out with a W versus British Columbia, but I did very well both at outside linebacker and fullback. Kai Nacua was another player that was playing in it, him and I were the two outside linebackers on defense, and there was a linebacker that committed to LSU who was playing middle linebacker. We had kids from everywhere, from Florida, Georgia, California, Washington, Missouri, I wish we would have had more time to practice, we only had two solid practices. The British Columbia team had two weeks to practice and we were their second game."
Pili enjoyed having fellow Las Vegas native and BYU commit Kai Nacua at the other outside linebacker position in their All-Star Game, and at BYU, Coach Tidwell has told Pili that Kai will be playing there as well. The outside linebacker position at BYU will continue to be a strength of this BYU defense.
"The coaches at BYU really like my fundamentals, they want me to keep working on keeping my fundamentals sound and they really like my strength and size and they know I have a lot of potential to be a starter hopefully after my mission, or even before, depending on what happens. They just see the potential that I have and they see that I can be hopefully one of the best to come through BYU, I'm just excited."
Pili has always been excited to play football at BYU. After his sophomore year when schools such as Stanford, Oregon, Cal, and Washington asked him to come to their camps where they would likely extend a scholarship offer, he declined to attend and committed to BYU upon receiving their offer. His excitement is at an all-time high now that he has been on his official visit and signed his letter of intent.
"I had lots of fun on the official visit, we went through the campus and toured the campus, we went to the academic center and went over eligibility and tutors and balancing football and academics. Saturday we went snow mobiling which was really fun, it was a blast. We also got to hang out with some of the other football players, overall it was a really good time."
"There were two main things that Coach Mendenhall told us, one is that Coach Mendenhall is always going to ask for total effort on each of your 10,000 hours and 100,000 reps. So just to have a conscious total effort, and the other one is that giving up touchdowns isn't good. Total effort is just giving it your all every single play, not giving up a single blade of grass or even a centimeter on the football field."
"Probably my number one reason that I love BYU was the coaches, the defensive coaches especially, Coach Mendenhall, Poppinga, Tidwell, Howell and Kaufusi. They really stood out to me the way they ran their camp, and their demeanor toward their players. And I just feel like I could be a better player learning from them. Next I love the environment at BYU, the spiritual aspect and the academics. I know it will be a lot of work, but hopefully it will pay off in the future. Then it would probably be that their defense was number 3 in the nation in total defense, so I'm really looking forward to playing for such a prestigious defense. Hopefully while I'm there we can work together to be the number one total defense. I've also had a lot of family members come through BYU, one was Ifo Pili who played defensive tackle for BYU back in the 90's, and went to the NFL. Him and my dad are first cousins. I also really loved it when I went to the camp, I just really liked the environment and the overall demeanor at the camp of the coaches, players, and there were even some of the other recruits that were there. We all kind of meshed really well together, and it made me think about my future and how BYU could have a huge part of my life. Then they offered me and I committed."
While BYU did just sign the new and improved version of Trajan Pili, the one thing that isn't changing is his commitment to hard work.
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