Marvin just kind of made himself available to us. He had Casey’s (Mazzotta) recommendation, and he’s done a tremendous job. —Ed Lamb
PROVO — BYU senior safety Marvin Hifo is likely someone no one even knew was on the roster come the start of the season, and for good reason. But through showing good focus, hard work and discipline, the walk-on from San Jacinto Junior College has earned a definitive role on the team while receiving high praise from coaches.
Marvin is the older brother of BYU wide receiver Aleva Hifo. Unlike Aleva, Marvin wasn't recruited by BYU out of high school and had to use certain connections to even get a shot of making this year's BYU football team.
Sure, Aleva campaigned for his brother to get a spot, but a conversation with San Jacinto coach Casey Mazzotta, who played at BYU from 1992-93, is what ultimately won BYU coaches over.
“Marvin just kind of made himself available to us,” recalled BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb, who was teammates with Mazzotta while playing for BYU. “He had Casey’s recommendation, and he’s done a tremendous job. He’s one of the best tacklers on the team.”
The job the 5-foot-10, 195-pound safety has been doing is beyond what any of the coaches expected. Orginally thought of as someone to add depth and perhaps contribute on special teams, Marvin Hifo has risen to become a fixture in the secondary.
Through three games played, Marvin Hifo has recorded 12 tackles — good for 12th on the team, and he has been in regular in a safety rotation that includes senior Micah Hannemann, juniors Tanner Jacobson and Zayne Anderson, and sophomore Austin Lee.
Even with four safeties who can depended on, Lamb is thankful for Marvin Hifo and the role he's played, given the need for several options throughout the season.
“The days are gone where one guy can play a whole season — every single snap — so you need enough guys to rotate in, and we do,” Lamb said. “We have that luxury, and, if we didn’t, we’d just have to play the two guys who are clearly better than everyone else.”
As for Marvin, and the work he's put in to get to where he is, Lamb heaped on the praise.
“I know he’s handled business in the classroom, and I know that he’s really well-prepared,” Lamb said. “From a team standpoint — any time a guy can come out of no where, work his way on to the field and deliver — that takes so much character.”
Indeed, Marvin Hifo has provided the type of work ethic and determination Lamb wishes every player had. In an age where recruits are often fawned over as superstars, even before playing a down of college football, Marvin represents someone who has had to work for his opportunity every step of the way.
“Every team probably has dozens of guys who are disappointed in their role and struggling on a daily basis to bring the energy they need to persevere through what they think is an unfair situation,” Lamb said. “So when a guy like (Marvin Hifo) can set a great example of just starting from zero — having no role and no spot on the team, and he’s even questionable to make it to training camp, and then work himself into what we consider a starting player and then deliver — it’s just a tremendous test of his character.”