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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Grizzlies lineman feels recruiting tug-of-war

Copper Hills' Siliga changes colors from BYU blue to U. red

By Dan Rasmussen
Deseret Morning News
Published: August 12, 2007
WEST JORDAN — Technically, he hasn't even started his senior year of high school yet.

Already, however, Copper Hills senior Sealver Siliga knows what it feels like to be caught in the cross hairs of a passionate college rivalry.

In the first week of July, Siliga, following a meeting with BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, pledged his collegiate future to the Cougars.

Four weeks later, however, he re-thought his decision and instead wanted to go to a different school.

To the University of Utah.

For Ute fans, he went from relative unknown to hero.

For Cougar fans, he went from hero to goat.

Such can be the nature of college recruiting.

Flames of his decision — in the form of positive and negative reactions — were fanned on numerous message boards by BYU and Utah fans alike.

His decision became a hot topic for fans on those sites, and his situation was debated — at length — almost exclusively by people who didn't know why he changed his mind.

With that very fresh on his thoughts, the 6-foot-2, 320-pound lineman prospect turns his attention to his senior season at Copper Hills.

For Siliga, like many others in the state who have already made early college commitments, the prep season can't start soon enough. In many ways, getting to the new year will give Siliga a chance to get away from all the recruiting talk and just concentrate on football.

"I'm not worried about that stuff that people say. That doesn't phase me," says Siliga. "I'm still in high school, still have my senior year to go through.

"I'll just focus on my high-school football team, play with my buddies over here."

Copper Hills coach Art Erickson points out that some of the attention he's received is reflective of the talent that Siliga, who is listed as a three-star recruit on scout.com, possesses. Through the ups and downs of the process, Erickson says he's simply tried to counsel his talented offensive lineman whenever possible.

"I think, at some point, Sealver has been overwhelmed by it, which it can be," says the coach. "Taking a 16-, 17-year-old man, presenting him with some opportunities and talking with the people they talk with in the environment they talk, can be somewhat overwhelming."

After initially committing to BYU, Siliga says he simply changed his mind and now feels that Utah will be the best fit for him.

"That decision was mine," he says. "Other people say, 'No, it's because he got influenced by other people' or 'No, it's because he's weak in the head, can't take criticism.'

"I don't mind that stuff. Is it their college (experience)? Is it them going to school? No, it's me."

Of the criticism he's received, Siliga says it will provide him with plenty of motivation.

"Oh, it is (motivating)," Siliga says. "It's not motivating right now because I really can't go up against (BYU). But let's just say that once (the high school season) is over, I'm gonna be training like there's no tomorrow and prove those guys wrong."

"Because," he added, "I can do it. It doesn't matter what school I go to, because I can do it."

If Siliga's performance in the weight room is any indication, Cougar fans should be worried.

Entering his sophomore season, Siliga was big but totally out of shape.

"I was just fat," he says, "and I got tired of it. So I just hit the weight room as hard as I could."

By the end of the year, Siliga had vastly improved. He finished third in the state's powerlifting competition as a sophomore, and he won it as a junior.

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