After many attempts, BYU is finally in the Pututau business
Talitui Putuau is officially a BYU Cougar. That statement by itself is a big deal for the Cougars. He is a big defensive tackle who chose BYU over Arizona State, Colorado and a handful of G5 programs. That’s a big addition for a BYU defensive line that hasn’t had a whole lot of success when it comes to recruiting defensive tackles lately.
But it’s also a big sign because, well, BYU finally got a Pututau. The Cougars tried for Fua Pututau, Taniela Pututau and Tennessee Pututau, but all three of them ended up at Utah. Utah didn’t formally offer Talitui, but other P5 programs did and BYU has been trying to get into the Pututau business for a long, long time. Now they are. That’s great news for the Cougars.
If he were a former cougar: Russell Tialavea. Though Pututau will likely play on the interior of the defensive line, it seems unlikely that he’s a traditional nose tackle who plays at 300+ pounds. He’s a tall, slender 260 pounds right now. He will likely gain some weight down the road, like his brothers and cousins have at Utah, but playing tackle at 280 seems more like his future than a true one-tech, nose guard. That was Tialavea during his time at BYU. Though he was riddled with injuries later in his career, he showed how impactful he could be when he was healthy. That seems like the appropriate trajectory for Pututau.
One superlative to describe Pututau: The greatest mystery. Pututau’s recruitment was quiet. He had big offers, but he kept things close to the vest and just let the process play out. His senior year at West High School (UT) had some injuries and he was unable to get on the field as much as he would have liked. That caused many fans to kind of forget about him until all of a sudden he committed to BYU in December. We don’t know exactly what Pututau will become and we haven’t seen a ton of him on film, but what we have seen is incredibly intriguing. He certainly has the talent to be a Power 5 player, it’s just a matter of what exactly he develops into that is a mystery.
When will Pututau make an impact for BYU: Pututau is expected to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prior to enrolling at BYU. As such, fans will have to wait for a couple of years before he makes an impact. If he’s like his older brothers and cousins who have played at Utah, he will come back heavier than he is now and immediately compete for playing time. Some people’s genes are able to make that post-mission recovery fairly quickly, and it seems like the Pututaus are able to do that.
Parting thoughts: BYU needs defensive tackles. Regardless of who did or did not offer Pututau, he has talent and enough teams wanted him that BYU had to win a recruiting battle. Relative to where BYU’s recruitment has been in the past, this is a very large step in the right direction for the future. It’s unrealistic to expect BYU to go from playing primarily walk-ons at defensive tackle to suddenly landing four-star prospects. There is a process that the Cougars will have to go through to earn the trust of future defensive tackles. Pututau is the kind of player who can go a long way in helping expedite that process.
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