‘Super Nacua Bros’ Samson and Puka bring infectious joy to BYU football
Samson Nacua has had plenty of reasons to smile this season.
After all, he’s been reunited with his brother Puka in BYU’s receiver room, scored against his former school in an emotional rivalry victory, made highlight reels both on and off the field and been an essential piece to a 7-2 Cougar squad ranked 15th in the national playoff ranks.
Maybe that’s why he’s always smiling.
“Samson has so much energy, and it’s contagious,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “It’s something that’s unique, and our players are feeding off of that and becoming more like him, and that’s why he’s been such a great example and leader for our team.”
Samson — a graduate transfer from Utah — is set to be honored this Saturday for senior day against Idaho State as one of just three seniors on BYU’s roster. While his Cougar career has been brief, it’s been nothing short of memorable, especially to serve as a self-proclaimed “hype man” alongside Puka.
“I’ve been telling everyone it’s been like a dream,” Samson said. “It’s been cool to see Puka do his own thing, to cheer him on and come into the game and ball out with him. I’m loving every bit of it.”
Samson and Puka joined BYU’s program this past spring from Utah and Washington, respectively, in one of the loudest recruiting swings of the Sitake era. Since their highly-anticipated arrival, the brothers have brought their own trademark swagger to the table, whether it be Puka slapping his helmet after beating a defender deep or Samson going absolutely berserk following a score.
“You feel like the best part of their day is when they’re with you,” Sitake said of the Nacuas. “Those guys are always smiling, they carry themselves in such a positive, optimistic manner, and that’s right in line with what I want for this team.”
They’re vocal, they dance and bounce around on the sidelines, they’re always willing to take pictures with fans and even need to be restrained on occasion in order to prevent excessive celebration penalties.
Oh, and they’re pretty good at football, too.
In last Saturday’s shootout with Virginia, both Nacuas each posted 107 receiving yards with a touchdown each — identical numbers both impressive and heartwarming for the brothers.
“It’s the greatest blessing that’s ever happened to me to have my brother out there on the field with me and to see him go do the things that I know he’s capable of,” Puka said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him as a little brother.”
A recent surge from Puka has propelled the star sophomore to lead the team with 551 receiving yards on the season, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch as an elite downfield threat. Against Baylor, Puka exploded for an eye-popping 168 yards on just five catches in one of the most dominant receiving performances in recent BYU history, and he’s even averaged over 12 yards per carry on eight carries in the run game.
“The biggest thing about Puka is his confidence and believing in himself,” Samson said. “He can dominate no matter what situation he’s put in.”
While Samson’s season totals don’t quite match those of Puka, he’s been arguably Jaren Hall’s most clutch receiving target with three touchdown grabs out of just nine catches. Even despite minor lingering injuries throughout the campaign, Samson has proven to be a force to be reckoned with against defensive backs on contested throws.
“Samson hasn’t been 100% healthy this season, but you could never tell that just from his approach to the game with his energy and the positivity that comes from him,” Sitake said.
Puka believes that Samson, who “loves talking to people,” gets a lot of his talent from his outgoing nature off the field. “If you know Samson, the way he interacts with people, the energy that he brings and how he carries himself all the time translates directly to his football game.”
Samson, who holds a degree in sociology, doesn’t know exactly what his next chapter looks like once his playing days are over, but he’s ready to take what he’s been given within the football program to go forth to serve once that day comes.
“Our culture is love and learn, and I’m loving every second of being down here and learning so much more about myself and those around me,” Samson said. “I just want to see everyone around me smile. It’s not easy in this life, everybody goes through their own trials, but I want to be a helping hand and see people smile.”