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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lake Dallas lineman Tauaefa commits to Minnesota

07:23 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 22, 2009

By Jeff Andrews / For the Denton Record-Chronicle

CORINTH — Josh Tauaefa needed only a glimpse of Minnesota’s new stadium to know it was a special place to play. Lake Dallas’ senior defensive tackle took an official visit to the school over the weekend and was taken enough with the team’s coaches and facilities that he gave them an oral commitment to play football.

Oral commitments are nonbinding. The first day recruits can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 3.

“I just like where the program is headed,” Tauaefa said. “I’m ready to be a Gopher. I really loved it. I really think it’s the place for me. I love where the program is headed.”

Tauaefa (6-3, 260) previously took a visit to UTEP and was scheduled to visit UNLV, Colorado State and Kansas, but decided to forgo those trips and make his decision after having dinner with Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster on Saturday night.

The senior cited recruiting coach Tim Cross as a big influence on his decision. Cross not only recruited Tauaefa, but will be his defensive line coach as well, something Tauaefa values.

“He’s a really strong Christian,” Tauaefa said of Cross. “He knows my morals and we share the same beliefs. That’s a huge part. A lot of coaches are recruiting coaches but are like the receivers coach. That played a big role.”

And those new facilities didn’t exactly hurt Minnesota’s cause either. The Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex just underwent a $1 million renovation, and the Gophers played their first game in the new TCF Bank Stadium this season.

The locker room at the stadium is the largest in both the college and pro ranks, and the video board is the third largest in college football.

“It’s going to affect my decision of course,” Tauaefa said of the stadium. “There were six other recruits besides myself. We all walked in there and I was like ‘I really like this.’ This one kid was just like ‘I’m committing.’ As soon as we walked into the stadium, it was the nicest thing I’ve ever seen.”

was like ‘I really like this.’ This one kid was just like ‘I’m committing.’ As soon as we walked into the stadium, it was the nicest thing I’ve ever seen.”

The senior has been an impact player on the defensive line for the Falcons since his sophomore year, and the 2009 season is no different. He has 18 tackles and three sacks in three games this year, including a safety in Lake Dallas’ season-opening win over Sherman.

Tauaefa said he believes Brewster is the coach that can turn around the Gophers after the team dropped off a few years ago. The Gophers were just 1-11 in his first year as head coach in 2007, but the team rebounded with an appearance in the Insight Bowl in 2008.

The Gophers have showed promise again in 2009 as they’ve started the season with a 2-1 record, and they’re considered a darkhorse in the Big 10.

By committing to Minnesota, Tauaefa is passing up the chance to play with his brother, Isaac, who is playing with UTEP. Josh visited UTEP and said he enjoyed it, but feels like Minnesota is a better fit. And he still will get to play with family as his cousin, Moses Alipate, is a quarterback for the Gophers.

The senior couldn’t be moving to a more different climate as he’ll trade the sweltering heat of Texas for the frigid winters of the Midwest. Tauaefa said it wasn’t a concern for him.

“I can put more clothes on than I can take off,” he said. “Once you’re hot you can only take off so many clothes. When you’re cold you can pile them on.”

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