Actions speak louder than words
This story was originally published in the BYU-Cincinnati football game program on October 16, 2015.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
“Speak softly and carry a big stick”- African Proverb
While trash-talking and vocal intimidation may be tools of intimidation for some athletes, BYU linebacker Jherremya Leuta-Douyere plays with the simple attitude that actions speak louder than words, relying on his skill to do his talking on the field.
Making a Name for Himself
Becoming a skilled playmaker has always been the goal for BYU linebacker Jherremya (Jehr-uh-my-yuh) Leuta-Douyere (lay-yooda Do-yair). Regardless of where the 6”0 230 linebacker is on the field, Leuta-Douyere plays fast and makes things happen for the Cougar defense.
“If you can imagine, he’s like a silent hulk,”says teammate Bronson Kaufusi. “Jherremya really likes playing linebacker because he gets to be there right in the middle of the action and he’s able to read things quickly and play fast.”
While fans may still struggle to pronounce his name, it’s no struggle to recognize the big plays he has made. In the 2014 season opener, Leuta-Douyere made some noise for the Cougar defense when he forced a key fumble early against UCONN, a play that swung the momentum in BYU’s direction on the way to a key road victory.
“I was shocked when it happened,” remembers Leuta-Douyere. “I didn’t even know that he fumbled. That was my first game starting at middle line backer and I had never played middle before that, but all the anxiety before the game helped me to play faster.”
Linebacker coach Paul Tidwell wasn’t surprised at all. He saw the play as evidence of Leuta-Douyere’s playmaking ability and the defensive potential of number 43.
“He hit the guy so hard that he fumbled the ball and recovered it on the first play,” coach Tidwell remembers. “I said to myself ‘man, this guy is going to be a great inside linebacker.”
While the big plays made plenty of big noise, Leuta-Douyere’s quiet and deliberate work ethic off the field had an equally loud impact on his coaches and teammates.
“Jherremya is a hard worker, he does a lot off the field and when he’s on the field he gives everything he’s got,” teammate Harvey Langi said. “He might not talk about it or make a big scene, but if you sit back and watch him play it gives you goose bumps.”
Faith, Family and Football
The friendly, easy-going linebacker grew up in Southern California surrounded by loving family and friends. Although not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jherremya says that faith was a part of the family legacy.
“My family was really dedicated to the Catholic church because of my grandpa’s role in the ministry. We would go to church every Sunday and I grew up in a house of faith. It played a big role in my life.”
His cousin and teammate Butch Pau’u also noted the strong faith he has seen in Jherremya.
“I’ve always admired Jherremya’s Christian beliefs,” Pau’u said. “He’s a great Christian and a great young man with great values. He’s very honest too, if you ask Jherremya something he’ll tell you the truth.”
In addition to teaching faith, his mother Lita made sure to place a strong emphasis on learning, even making it a part of the family’s discipline. When Jherremya and his brother misbehaved, Lita would assign them the task of writing an essay to confess what they had done wrong and explain why they were were sorry. Jherremya, a quick learner, would often approach her with an essay already written, even before she knew that something had gone wrong.
Football, on the other hand, was far from being the top priority. What began as a way to get the boys out of the house became a way for Jherremya to feel his family’s love and support.
“I remember playing Pop Warner football and one game I got a pick and I didn’t know any of the rules so I just stood there,” Jherremya said. ”Then I looked over and saw my parents and they were waving at me to start running, so I started running.”
As he grew older and played in bigger leagues on bigger stages, Jherremya would never forget the importance of looking towards the sidelines for help from his family showing him the direction he needed to go.
That direction would change for Jherremya in sixth grade when the family moved to Keller, TX. Living in Texas provided Jherremya with friends and a football environment. But more importantly, the family learned a few key lessons that would prepare Jherremya for his future.
“Five years in Texas taught us as a family what was important,” his mother Lita said. “We learned that faith in God and our family comes first; second getting aneducation; third, sports- and sports always comes last.”
When the time came to move back to California after Jherremya’s freshman year, those lessons were put into practice. The family moved to Garden Grove, CA so that Jherremya’s older brother could play football his senior year alongside their cousin at the all-boys Catholic Servite High School. Faith, family, academics and football all affected the decision.
Butch and the Kid
The move would have a much bigger impact on Jherremya’s football career than he would realize at the time. Also attending Servite High School was Butch Pa’uu, another cousin of the Leuta-Douyere family, who was establishing himself as a standout linebacker.
Much like two of the West’s most famous outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch and Jherremya soon became a feared linebacker duo known for their precision and skill in destroying opposing offensives. Holdups and robberies on the gridiron came in the forms of sacks and forced fumbles as the two became feared for their defensive prowess.
Butch and the kid called “Myah” became part of one of Servite High school’s best football squads, winning a state championship together. But the friendship between the two cousins had actually begun as a rivalry. As Pop Warner football enemies they had seen each other as bitter opponents when they met on football field.
“I hated him growing up,” Butch said. “He played running back on the opposite team while a different cousin of mine played fullback. That week my cousin told me, ‘Hey watch out there’s a kid that’s going to run the ball really hard and you can’t stop him. I had hatred for both of them. But it was actually after that game when we found out that day that we were cousins.”
Their competitive feelings, however, were soon transformed into friendship and admiration when they became teammates at Servite. Butch soon gained a deep respect for his cousin.
“Myah isn’t the most vocal, but he’s a leader and everyone knows that we can rely on him,” Butch said. “When it comes to humility and doing what your supposed to do, he’s one of the greatest examples I know.”
Together they faced the decision of where to play college football. Because of an injury during his junior year, the recruiting process had gone slower than expected for Jherremya but an opportunity came through Butch to visit Provo.
“I had never heard of BYU until Butch had gotten an offer,” Jherremya said. “After he got an offer there he put the idea into my head so I decided to go when they invited us to a camp.”
Jherremya outperformed the other recruits at the camp and his playmaking potential caught the attention of the coaches who decided to make him an offer.
As he accepted and committed to playing for the Cougars, Jherremya had again glanced toward the sidelines and followed the indications of a loving and supportive family.
“Myah had an offer from UCLA, and I always felt that that’s where he was leaning to go,” Butch said. “But I knew he also was looking for a school that would help him out spiritually and academically and challenge him on the field.”
For his mother Lita, the strong academic and religious environment was thrilling and she encouraged him to go.
“I always told him that I didn’t care what school he went to as long as there was a religious background,” Lita said. ”When he decided to go to BYU, I was really happy because of the great family atmosphere and because Butch was going there.”
While proud of Jherremya’s athletic abilities, Lita was far more proud of her son’s academic achievement at Servite, including a Scholar-Athlete award given to only eighty student athletes in Orange County. Attending Brigham Young University would allow Jherremya continued learning and achievement beyond his athletic career.
How to be remembered
Now in his final year for the Cougars, Jherremya has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve.
“This year I’ll be playing a lot faster. With this being my last go-around I want to make the most of all the opportunities. I feel that since I’ve gotten to know the defense as best I can, I’ll be able to play multiple spots and play faster than I was before. Now the confidence is there and I just have to perform and do my talking through my actions.”
Once the season is finished, Jherremya plans on finishing his degree in sociology, something he knows will make his mother proud. Once his football days are over, he sees public administration as an opportunity for him to give back to the community and lead with his actions.
“I want to be remembered as someone who changed the feel of the typical BYU player, as someone who didn’t really talk, but who lead through his actions,” Jherremya said. ”Just like Marcus Mariotta left his mark. He wasn’t really as vocal, but he made plays. I want to be remembered like that as someone who didn’t have to back it up with words, but with how they played.”
BYU football wrapped up its first week of fall camp with its fifth practice on Saturday morning.