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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sealver Siliga commits to Utah

Prep football: A change of heart

Copper Hills DL caused some rivalry fireworks after a switch from BYU to Utah

By Andrew Aragon

The Salt Lake Tribune

On a popular Brigham Young athletics message board, Cougar fans questioned his manhood and wondered if he was headed for a career of pumping gas.
But over at a site devoted to following the Utes, fans were quick to forgive Copper Hills defensive lineman Sealver Siliga for originally committing to BYU. They hailed his player attributes, posted highlights of him from his junior season, and praised him for his mean streak.
As Siliga quickly learned, changing your mind between rival schools will get fans fired up.
Siliga's oral commitment to BYU on July 2 stunned many followers of football recruiting, who believed his going to Utah was a done deal.
Siliga changed his mind two weeks later, backed off his commitment to BYU, and announced he was headed to Utah. In the process, he set off a firestorm between the fans of the rival schools.
"People asked me why," Siliga said. "What about the [LDS] Church? Why did you change your mind? Some of them were serious."
A parent of one on his teammates at Copper Hills, who had congratulated Siliga when he committed to BYU, gave Siliga a quizzical look.
"I could tell something was different when I went to practice," Siliga said. ". . . But I still feel good about my decision."
Utah fans are equally comforted.
"When I committed to BYU, everybody [on] was mad-dogging me, a lot of people were hating," said Siliga, who is 6-foot-3, 340 pounds. "They said I wouldn't fit into the Utes' program and all that stuff. A week after that, they were saying, 'We're happy to have him. He'll fit in great.' "
Siliga monitored the message boards for a while before finally tuning them out. On a BYU fan site, a poster claimed to have an inside source that told him Siliga didn't want to attend BYU because it's too strict, and that he does drugs.
"I had to stay away after that," Siliga said. "It started to clog up my mind."
And it will serve as added motivation.
"I'm going to use that when I start playing for the U.," Siliga said. "If I play in my freshman year against BYU for even one play, I'm going to use that. I'll let it all out right then."
Siliga's teammates at Copper Hills noticed what people were saying on the Web sites and weren't too surprised that he changed his mind. Grizzlies receiver Kendrick Moeai, who was the first in-state player to commit to Utah this summer, said he figured his big teammate would join him.
"All we care about is that he's happy, and he's sure about where he wants to go," said Grizzlies lineman Loren Miller. "And he gets to go to college on scholarship."
Siliga said his family was just as supportive of his decision as his teammates. He'll be the first person in his family to attend a four-year college.
What he'll do when he's finished with college played a big role in Siliga backing off his commitment to BYU. The track record of the Utes sending defensive linemen to the NFL, and the coaching of defensive coordinator Gary Andersen, helped sway Siliga toward the Utes.
Copper Hills coach Art Erickson said it's unfortunate that so much attention has been paid to Siliga changing his commitment, noting that the focus should be on Siliga earning a Division I scholarship.
"The biggest thing is he's going to have the opportunity to have his schooling paid for," Erickson said. "What this should be about is one man's future and his ability to have an education provided for him and his family."

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