BYU’s Manumaleuna gets fresh start (Football)

August 10, 2010

It’s like déjà vu all over again for Anchorage’s Eathyn Manumaleuna.

The sophomore nose tackle has returned to the BYU football team after taking his mandatory two-year Mormon mission.

Eathyn Manumaleuna

So getting back to the gridiron has been a slow transition, to say the least.

“The first day was pretty hard. I’m not quite in shape as I thought I would be,” he told the Desert News. “I’ve got a long ways to go. In two years, I’ve forgotten a lot of the defense. It’s like I’m a freshman all over again.”

Manumaleuna, of East High fame, started every game as a freshman during the 2007 season.

His signature moment came in the Las Vegas Bowl when he blocked a UCLA 27-yard field goal attempt to preserve a 17-16 victory.

“I just remember that with three seconds left, I saw the UCLA sideline going crazy, thinking they were going to win,” he told the newspaper this week.

“Honestly, I thought we were going to lose. It was the last play so I knew we had to give it all we had. I really didn’t watch the kicker kick the ball. I didn’t see the ball. I just jumped. It was lucky timing, I guess. The kicker kicked the ball pretty low. I barely tipped it. It felt good.”

Once he went to Oklahoma City for his mission, though, Manumaleuna’s gridiron days were derailed.

In fact, when BYU beat Oklahoma in last season’s season opener, he followed mission rules and did not watch the game.

“It was pretty hard not to,” he admitted.

These days, though, Manumaleuna is back on the field. And the mammoth 6-foot-2, 280-pounder is ready to go, even though it has taken a little longer than expected.

“Day by day, I think I’ll get better. My memories of the schemes from my freshman year, it’s all coming back to me,” he said.

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