In the end, Xavier Su’a-Filo chose faith over football.
UCLA’s freshman phenom offensive tackle said after the Bruins’ 30-21 EagleBank Bowl win over Temple on Tuesday that he was leaving school and embarking on his LDS mission.
The All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection has returned home to Utah and will learn of his destination on Jan. 6.
“I always thought it was the right thing to do,” said Su’a-Filo, who was a fixture at left tackle this season, starting all 13 games. “Growing yup, it was what I wanted to do. It was always ingrained in the back of my mind. I wasn’t looking for reasons not to go – I was trying to concentrate on the season, and see if it was the right thing for me to do at this time. After prayer and thought, I felt like it was.”
After celebrating its first bowl win since 2005 with a 30-21 win over Temple on Tuesday night at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., UCLA was dealt crushing blows on both sides of the ball after the game.
Junior defensive tackle Brian Price told Chris Roberts, Wayne Cook and Matt Stevens of the UCLA ISP Sports Network that he intended to declare for the NFL Draft after a spectacular junior season and freshman offensive tackle Xavier Su’a-Filo confirmed in a text message that he was going on his LDS mission immediately.
While Price qualified his statements by adding that he still needed to have final discussions with the UCLA coaching staff and his family, all indications are that he is leaving for the NFL.
“I want what’s best for Brian Price,” Neuheisel said. “Obviously, we would love to have him back. He’s a big-time football player. But if it’s a good decision for Brian and his family to move on, we wish him the very best.”
Price sky-rocketed up the pre-draft charts late in the season and his five tackles and one tackle for loss gave him season totals of 48 total tackles and 23.5 TFL. While also adding seven sacks this year, Price’s 44.5 career tackles-for-loss rank second in UCLA history behind current cornerbacks coach Carnell Lake.
Many around the UCLA program braced themselves for Price’s early exit, though, particularly as he exploded onto Mel Kiper’s Big Board at the No. 10 spot.
UCLA freshman left tackle Xavier Su’A-Filo will partake on his LDS mission, he said in a text message minutes ago. Su’a-Filo was a highly touted recruit out of high school and his exit leaves a gaping hole for the Bruins.
We’ve arranged to talk about the decision tomorrow.