One recently returned home from a mission, while the other one has just begun his two years of service.
Sophomore nose tackle Romney Fuga, who played as a freshman in 2006, served in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission and returned June 30, 2009. Senior nose tackle Russell Tialavea entered the Missionary Training Center exactly six months later, on Dec. 30, 2009, to prepare to serve in the Chile Santiago West Mission.
During the 2009 season, they cultivated a close friendship on the football field and through conversations about the mission field. Fuga and Tialavea spent this past fall playing together and talking a lot about missionary work as they helped the Cougars to an 11-2 record.
"We talked about it all the time," said Fuga, of Huntington Beach, Calif. "That's all we ever talked about, about my mission and the experiences that I had. When I heard he was going on a mission, I was really excited for him. I'd tell him stories and fun experiences, to let him know that the mission is a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun. I think he knows he's going to enjoy it. He's prepared well for his mission."
"I just can't wait. I'm anxious to go," Tialavea said days before BYU's 44-20 victory over Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl Dec. 22, 2009. "It's all I think about."