Tuihalamaka Takes in Tucson
Back in May, four-star defensive end Apaiata Tuihalamaka had one of the best recruiting quotes of the year in an interview with Rivals.com.
|Apaiata Tuihalamaka visited Tucson last week.|
While the 6-foot-3, 205-pound athlete out of Serra High School in Gardena, California may or may not be able to play nine different positions at the next level, the quote certainly showed Arizona's interest level in him.
With offers from Arizona, Arizona State, California, Miami, Oregon, UCLA and Washington, Tuihalamaka has some impressive options when it comes to choosing a college.
Last week, he was in Tucson for an unofficial visit. It sounds as if he liked what he saw.
"It went great," Tuihalamaka said. "I took a tour, saw the facilities and talked with Coach (Mike) Tuiasosopo and Coach (Tim) Kish. I like the weight room and the facilities. I like the way they train, I like the coaches and I think I fit their profile."
One of the draws to Arizona for Tuihalamaka is his relationship with Coach Tuiasosopo. The time they spent together in Tucson was one of the highlights of his trip.
"I'm really close with Coach Tuiasosopo," Tuihalamaka said. "He knows what I went through because he came from the same place. I like the way he's straight up and tells me how it is. I like how much he wants me and the love he shows me. I live for coaches like that."
|Tuihalamaka is one of the top defensive ends in the country.|
"Conan is a cool guy," Tuihalamaka said. "We're both Polynesian so we feel comfortable with each other. He's someone that I feel I can relate to. He loves Arizona and told me about everything."
After the trip, Tuihalamaka told us that he decided to eliminate ASU from his list, giving him a new top eight.
"My top eight schools are U of A, UCLA, USC, Washington, Oregon, Nebraska, UNLV and Miami," he said.
His school list is long but Tuihalamaka hopes to see all of those programs before making a decision.
"Arizona was my first trip and I still have seven to go," he said. "I'll probably take three unofficial visits just to see what they have on Arizona."
Look for Tuihalamaka to take all his visits before making an announcement on his birthday of January 4th, 2007. However, he's open to committing before that.
|Look for Tuihalamaka to commit on his birthday.|
One thing that won't be a factor in his recruitment is location. Tuihalamaka says he's willing to go anywhere for school.
"It's no factor," he said. "My family is here but I want to experience the world and college is meant for that."
Even though he has five official visits to take and he's already seen Tucson, Tuihalamaka hopes to make another trip back to the UA campus.
"I want to come on an official during the season," he said. "It will probably be my first trip. It will probably be when they play USC at home. I'm thinking about taking a trip for that game or when they play ASU. I'll look at the calendar and set it up."
Now that he's seen the school's campus, does Apaiata Tuihalamaka feel that Arizona is going to be involved in his recruitment until the end?
"Yes, definitely," he said. "Just because of the coaching staff and the way they made me feel about them. I'm going to make sure I come back."
GOAZCATS.com will continue to follow Apaiata Tuihalamaka's recruitment closely until he makes a decision.