By Brandon Gurney, Deseret News
PROVO — Simonte Vea isn't the first name fans think of when considering the strength of this year's defensive front for BYU. He's probably not even the second, third or fourth name, either.
He's there, though. Right there on the Cougar defense two-deep roster at the left end position.
"I wasn't expecting to be on the two-deep, but it's good that I'm there, I guess," said a very unassuming Vea. "I just work hard, and as long as I'm working as hard as I can, I'll be where I need to be."
Vea came to BYU as a walk-on. Not as a preferred walk-on, with his spot guaranteed; he had to earn his spot.
Following his LDS Church mission to Puebla, Mexico, Vea decided to give BYU a shot. He grew up attending Kahuku High School in Hawaii and spent a year at Western Arizona junior college before giving the Cougar program a shot.
"I knew guys like Malosi Te'o and other guys that played at Kahuku, and I decided to give it a shot," said the 5-11, 270 defensive tackle. "I heard about Bronco. I heard about what type of coach he was and decided that it was the place I needed to be after my mission."
Vea heard about how Mendenhall regards his walk-on players and decided to give it a shot. He showed up the first day, and began his try-outs for a spot on the team.
"I was nervous, real nervous," he said. "It's why I was at BYU. I wanted to be on the team because I love football and I really wanted to play for a coach like Bronco."
Vea ended up making the team in large part due to his work ethic. According to his position coach Steve Kaufusi, his daily effort that he puts forth is among the best he's ever coached.
"I wish I had all my guys working as hard as Simonte," said Kaufusi. "He just never quits. He's like a pit bull. He's a bit shorter and a bit smaller, but he won't quit coming. He won't quit trying, and that is what I want from all of my players."