Path to the draft is our five-part series detailing BYU’s latest group of NFL prospects hoping to hear their name called at this weekend’s upcoming draft. First up is Uriah “Lopa” Leiataua, the chipper fifth-year senior who served as a timely contributor to BYU’s defensive front in the past two consecutive 10-win seasons.
The brotherhood at BYU is what convinced California native Uriah Leiataua, to choose a career as a Cougar over offers from Stanford, UCLA and other Power 5 programs back in 2014.
“The reason why I chose BYU is because the culture, especially the players. I call them my brothers at BYU,” Leiataua said. “It’s a different feeling than what I had with all the other recruiting trips I took in high school. I just found a different type of brotherhood at BYU.”
Leiataua returned in 2021 for his final year of eligibility, where the defensive lineman recorded 16 solo tackles and 2.5 sacks.
“This last season was awesome, it was one of the best seasons ever,” Leiataua said. “My favorite moment had to be when we beat Utah. I’m so glad I came back for that extra year.”
After BYU’s loss to UAB in the Independence Bowl, Leiataua retired from football. With only five sacks and total tackles over five seasons, Leiataua was overlooked by professional scouts. It wasn’t until January when BYU’s NFL liaison Jasen Ah You encouraged Leiataua to train for and participate in pro day to give his NFL dreams one last shot. Not wanting to have any regrets, Leiataua began training for pro day. Leiataua feels that both Ah You and the BYU football program have pushed him to reach the next level.
“BYU helped a lot with the level of competition, the way BYU trains and the way BYU lifts and everything like that,” Leiataua said. “It’s built on toughness, something that I am taking with me when I go to the next level.”
PRO DAY TRAINING
Leiataua trained for pro day at Mayne Performance in South Jordan under Skyler Mayne. Mayne Performance specializes in sports performance, movement optimization, and athlete care. The majority of Leuitaua’s training group are players from the University of Utah.
“All 24 hours are dedicated to your body and training your body for this one day to show up,” Leiataua said of his training regimen.
Prior to pro day, Leiataua trained Monday through Saturday, using Sunday as a recovery day. He wakes up at 7:30 a.m. and has a morning workout that includes lifting and position work. The next few hours are spent doing recovery work. Then he starts his second workout, which mostly consists of light work — specifically practicing stances and technique for drills. To end the day, Leiataua does rehab recovery along with red light therapy and cryotherapy.
Tuesdays and Thursdays were testing days, which included 20-yard shuttles, 20-yard splits or a 10-yard split to practice for his pro day testing.
“I’m literally working from seven in the morning until eight at night when I get home. That’s just the life now,” Leiataua said of his daily schedule.
Without school and other distractions, Leiataua is solely focused on his performance and football. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy a bit of free time as well.
“It’s kind of fun to get to play video games,” Leiataua said. “I also have the boys to play video games with me like Neil [Pau’u] and Ty [Allgeier].”
BYU PRO DAY
Pro day would be crucial for Leiataua to catch the attention of NFL teams and scouts.
“I just want to catch eyes,” Leiataua said prior to pro day. “I just want to put up numbers that will give me a shot. Whatever team that takes a chance on me is going to get a good one.”
At BYU’s pro day in March, Leiataua participated in the vertical jump (28.5 inches), broad jump (9 feet 6 inches), 40-yard dash (5.09 seconds), 20-yard shuttle (4.70 seconds) and three-cone drill (7.46 seconds). Leiataua also completed 23-reps on the bench press, which would have ranked him fourth among the defensive ends at the NFL combine. Following testing, Leiataua participated in positional workouts for the scouts.
“I think I did really well and I’m excited about that,” Leiataua said following his pro day showing. “Today I just focused on attacking each drill we did and on performing my best.”
The 2022 NFL Draft will begin on April 28 in Las Vegas.