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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Raineir Beach's Ta'amu gets all-star ticket

By DARREN FESSENDEN
SPECIAL TO THE P-I

His team missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years, but Alameda Ta'amu will represent Rainier Beach High School (Seattle, WA) well this winter.

Ta'amu, a 6-foot-3, 340-pound offensive guard/defensive tackle, has been invited to play in the second annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.

The East versus West game featuring 88 of the country's top high school players will be held Jan. 4 at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The game, likely the final one at the famed 70-year-old stadium, will be aired on Fox College Sports.

Ta'amu will be in Miami for a week, with events including a football combine and charity work as part of Offense-Defense Sports, an instructional organization that conducts dozens of events annually.

Ta'amu, the only junior selected on the P-I's All-Area team last season, is considered a four-star recruit and is one of the state's top prospects in a lineman-laden class featuring Washington recruits Drew Schaefer (Eastlake) and Senio Kelemete (Evergreen) and Oregon recruit Nick Cody (Brush Prairie).

While Oregon State and Hawaii have made offers and would want Ta'amu to play guard, Washington projects him as a defensive tackle. Ta'amu seems to be leaning toward the Huskies, but has a scheduled visit for Hawaii on Dec. 1.

Interestingly, Hawaii's opponent that day is Washington.

"Yeah, that will be a little different," said Ta'amu, whose favorite team for years has been USC.

Rainier Beach (3-5, 3-2 Metro Sound), which concludes its season Friday at Liberty, struggled through inexperience and a rash of injuries. Coming into this season, the Vikings hadn't lost a division game since months before President Bush took office.

"We were really young," said Ta'amu, a calming influence on a team composed of numerous underclassmen, "but all the tools and athleticism are there for next year."

Ta'amu is recovering from a broken foot, but said he'll be at full strength for the Miami game, which also will include Bellevue tackle David DeCastro.

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