By John Frierson
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's recruiting efforts in California continued to pay dividends Thursday when Sacramento City College linebacker Doug Faatiliga signed with the Mocs.
He's the third player from a junior college in California to sign with UTC since the midyear signing period began on Dec. 19, joining quarterback Mike McDonald and safety Chris Blanson.
"(Faatiliga's) a kid we really wanted, and we're excited to get him," Mocs coach Rodney Allison said. "To sign three guys from California, I think, certainly validates our decision to make a recruiting trip out there."
In 10 games this past season, the 6-foot-3, 258-pound Faatiliga had 106 tackles, including 7 1/2 sacks and 22 tackles for loss.
"He's a big linebacker who can run," UTC defensive coordinator Billy Taylor said. "Everyone else wanted to make a defensive lineman out of him, a defensive end, and he didn't want to do that. We want to play him at inside linebacker, where I think he could do a really good job."
Unlike Blanson and McDonald, who said moving a long way from California was a concern for them, Faatiliga, a San Francisco native, was eager to get away.
"I'm tired of living in California and my family thought it would be good for me to go out on my own and experience living in another part of the country," Faatiliga said. "I really liked Chattanooga. I liked the staff and the school and the overall atmosphere there."
The arrival of Faatiliga, who will enroll next week as will UTC's five other juco signees, should help make up for the departure of senior starters Chris Johnson and Steven Mills, who combined for 141 tackles this season.
The recruiting focus will mostly shift from junior college to high school players for the next month, until national signing day on Feb. 6, but a couple of juco players will be among the 18 prospects UTC is scheduled to bring in this weekend.