Tayo Fabuluje is one of a number of recruiting coups in the 2010 BYU football signing class.
Fabuluje, who is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, turned down scholarship offers from Nebraska, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Arizona, Utah, and TCU among others, when he signed with the Cougars this past February.
“I was sold (on BYU),” says Tayo. “I was locked in on them. I did my homework on BYU and knew that it was the place for me. Even though I’m not LDS, I will fit in and get along very well.”
It also didn’t hurt that he grew up in Euless, Texas, as boyhood friends with future Cougars Ross Apo and Teu Kautai, also members if the BYU signing class of 2010.
“We’ve been friends for a long time, since we met at elementary school,” explains Tayo. “We met at recess playing football.”
The three friends would go on to play together throughout little league and into high school. Along the way, one of Tayo’s (pronounced Tigh-oh) teachers in elementary school had difficulty pronouncing his name and started calling him “Terry.” The nickname stuck, and he has gone by Terry ever since.
As a freshman, Terry attracted the attention of coaches at football powerhouse Euless Trinity High School. As a sophomore, he was the starting tight end on a a team that won the 5-A Division-1 Texas state high school championship. “I got my first start the third game of my sophomore year and then ended up starting the rest of the season,” explains Terry.
While Fabuluje was winning a state championship, his friends Apo and Kautai were adjusting to the rigors of prep school. The had both transferred from Trinity to Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas.
With a strong desire to prepare himself academically, Fabuluje made the difficult decision to leave one of the premiere football programs in the country to attend the small private school with his buddies.
“Oh man, the workload was ridiculous compared to Trinity,” Fabuluje exclaims. “Oakridge being a college prep school, I knew could get a lot better head start there. I also figured that no matter where you play they (the colleges) will find you. I turned out good. I believe it was a good move for me, and my family thinks it was a good move too.”
The summer between his junior and senior years at Oakridge, Fabuluje tagged along with his friends to BYU Junior Day Camp in Provo. He came away impressed, and with a scholarship offer.
“It was a really good experience,” Terry says. “I met the coaches and everybody there. I really liked Coach Mendenhall’s philosophy of the Four F’s—Family, Friends, Faith, and Football. It was great seeing the mountains for the first time. It just seemed like a place that I could spend the next few years.”
He also came away interested with BYU’s Marriott School of Management, one of the nation’s top business schools. He believes that his prep school background has prepared him for BYU.
“Ross says that college isn’t nearly as hard what we went through at Oakridge.”
Prior to attending Junior Day in Provo, Fabuluje had had little exposure, attending just one Nike camp in Fort Worth and a Nike Combine in Dallas before visiting BYU. But his work at those camps made him a hot commodity, with coaches flocking in to see him work out as he his prepared for his senior season.
“Coaches started showing up at school,” says Fabuluje. “They would show up during the day and then call me that night with an offer.”
After committing to BYU, Terry says that several coaches called him trying to talk him out of going to BYU. “They said BYU? Really?”
But Terry was excited to play with his friends and excited to be part of a top-25 recruiting class in Provo. “Hopefully we can live up to that. We’ll find out over the next two or three years. I think we can. When you have great people working together at a great place, great things will happen.”
Fabuluje says that he expects the Cougars to utilize his athletic prowess on the defensive side of the ball, projecting himself as a defensive end at BYU.
“There was talk of me playing offensive tackle when I was first being recruited,” Terry says. “But coach Kaufusi tells me I’m going to be on the defensive line. I haven’t really talked much to the offensive coaches. Since I committed and signed, I haven’t heard anything about playing offense.”
Fabuluje, who says he now checks in at 6′7″ and 280 pounds, has been hard at work preparing for his freshman season. He trains with former U.S. gold medal sprinter Jon Drummond to improve his speed and agility.
“I’m working to improve my agility and lateral quickness,” says Terry. “They (BYU) run that 3-4 defense, and we ran it at my high school. It’s important to be able to move down the line. It’s all about having quick feet and violent hands.”
Terry hopes that his preparations will allow him to be a contributor for the Cougars in his first season.
“Coach Kaufusi tells me that BYU is in need of depth on the defensive line. He doesn’t mind playing freshman if that’s what it calls for,” Fabuluje says. “I just want to go in and do as much as possible, be the biggest impact I can be. I just want to do as much as I can, take it one day at a time and do whatever they need me to do.”
Fabuluje will arrive in Provo this Thursday to beginning working out as a Cougar and to begin summer term at BYU.