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Monday, August 07, 2006

Change of scenery put Angilau on right track

Another article on David Angilau of Niwot High School in Colorado.

Previous post on David Angilau
July 3, 2006

DailyCamera
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Cliff Grassmick

It's not stretch to see a bright future for Niwot nose guard David Angilau.
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Change of scenery put Angilau on right track

Former Californian thriving at Niwot; he's committed to play at BYU

By Zak Brown, Camera Sports Writer
August 4, 2006

The way life was going at James Logan High School, David Angilau didn't have much of a future.

He was big as a freshman and sophomore, and football was flowing through his Tongan blood. But he had other things on his mind. Talent — Division I type of talent — was in danger of being wasted.

The problem was most of his friends didn't have his potential. He got wrapped up in things that kept him from school and football, and his family noticed. His uncle, who lived in Longmont, suggested his nephew fly out for a weekend to simply get away from the negative environment in Union City, Calif.

"There is a lot less people (in Longmont). There's a lot of open land," Angilau said. "Back where I'm from, there's just concrete."

Angilau took his uncle's offer and came to Colorado in April 2005. Despite coming from a place where futures aren't always bright, Angilau was able to think clearly about his. After spending only a couple of days in a foreign environment, Angilau told his family he was staying in it.

That mature decision has reversed his future, which now includes a full scholarship at Brigham Young University, where he has committed to play football. But that won't be until a year from now. Angilau's immediate future consists of disrupting the line of scrimmage for Niwot as one of the best nose guards in the state.

"It's a lot easier here. There are not as many distractions," said Angilau, who is now 6-2, 260 pounds. "The kids I was with in California, they liked football, but they liked to play around. They don't really care about their futures. Kids here are talking about combines and stuff like that."

Angilau loved football when he was in California. The kids around him didn't always share his passion. Instead of going to class, where he had to be in order to stay eligible, he skipped it. Homework faded from his mind. There wasn't any serious trouble, but life could have been headed that way.

"I always wanted to play, but I didn't have the grades," said Angilau, an active member of the Mormon Church. "I had, like, no grades."

In his family, there was potential for greatness on the football field. Three cousins — Mosese Foketi, Manase Tonga and Mantangi Tonga — are already on the BYU roster. So his family didn't want to watch as poor decisions obscured great talent.

The trip to Longmont was just supposed to be a respite from the negativity. Maybe it would allow Angilau to see what he was squandering. If he could simply look at his situation from a distance, he would be able to change it.

"I lived with his dad as a young adult and we have stayed good friends throughout the years," his uncle, Mitch Vuki, said. "His dad called me and said, 'He needs to depart these negative influences. Can you help me out?' I said, 'Put him on a plane tomorrow.'"

Angilau realized he couldn't be a football star at his old school. But he would have to adjust to more than football at his new school. Niwot High is in a largely affluent, mostly white community. Union City is a diverse area, with whites only making up 30.2 percent of the population, according to the 2000 Census.

"It's cool," said Angilau, who is of Tongan descent. "It's a different side of America."

A transformation began to take shape. Instead of hanging out with kids who wanted to skip class and cause trouble, Angilau was around kids who wanted to attend class and learn. That meant eligibility for Angilau, and an unexpected, extraordinary talent for coach Ron Tesone.

"If you hang in there long enough, you think maybe you can be blessed with a player like this," Tesone said. "When I think about what we would have been last year without him, it really is hard to imagine."

The defensive tackle racked up 11 sacks last year and was an all-state selection. He is regarded as one of the best recruits in Colorado, with Rivals.com ranking him No. 8 overall in Colorado. He runs a 4.8-second 40-yard dash, as fast as some running backs. He could move to the offensive line this fall, although he prefers defense.

"I love to hit people," he said. "I hit the guy with the ball. That's all I have to do."

Back in California, Angilau wasn't a big fan of school. But in Niwot, he has been going when most his friends weren't. He finished summer school last month, just about the time he committed to BYU. He received an A in American Literature and a B in geometry.

Now his future is one in which he wants to thrive. If he continues on his current path, he could end up as a player for one of the nation's premier football programs, at his religion's premier school. But thanks to the mature decision of a troubled teen, a positive future lies beyond that.

"He fell in line with the help of some better structure, thankfully," Tesone said. "And if he can continue to progress, he has a great future ahead of him not only at BYU, but beyond."

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