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PROVO - Tevita Hola didn't want to wait until fall to begin his Brigham Young football career. The junior defensive lineman wanted to lessen the urgency of his learning curve by arriving a few months early.
Hola is one of three Snow Junior College transfers - Coleby Clawson and Andrew Rich are the others - participating in BYU's spring practice.
"I think it's important to come in early to understand the schemes and know what the coaches expect of you right from the beginning," Hola said. "Plus, your errors can be corrected now instead of waiting for the fall."
The Cougars didn't have any high school players decide to enroll before spring. But the JC transfers have a smaller career window to get immersed in the system.
"All three I would say are dead even in terms of their transition," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "They are all willing and great young men with good work ethics, it's just a different volume and they are trying as hard as they can to keep up with it."
Rich compared the transition to "drinking out of a fire hose" from a mental and physical standpoint.
"It's been a big adjustment because it is obviously a whole step higher and every part of the game is sped up," the sophomore defensive back said. "The scheme is not just two plus two. It's pretty difficult to learn all the new things, and that has probably been the biggest challenge overall, just learning the new terminology and the schemes."
Hola has noticed the increased intensity in all phases of the game.
"It is a higher level as far as tempo and pace, so I am just trying to translate my own strength and speed compared to this level of play," he said. "There is a lot more technique involved and a lot of detail work that goes into play."
Although nothing is guaranteed in terms of playing time, the JC transfers are grateful they won't be starting from square one in August.
"It's my responsibility to come out and work my hardest and do my best and learn and grow to become a better football player," Rich said. "The coaches know what they are doing, and I am sure if I deserve it, I will be given a shot."
The football team is holding a fireside tonight at 7 at the LDS Chapel in American Fork (110 E. Main Street). Speakers will include Dallas Reynolds, Vai Sikahema and Mendenhall. The Cougars will also perform two musical numbers. The first will be performed by Wayne Latu, Manase Tonga, Fui Vakapuna, Harvey Unga, Cortny Barton and Rockey Kalamafoni, and the second will be a team rendition.