Posted by Bob Condotta
When Taniela Tupou of Archbishop Murphy committed to UW on Thursday, he became the seventh member of a rapidly filling Class of 2011.
But he also became the first currently playing in the state of Washington, and Tupou acknowledged that was something on his mind.
"I knew I would be the first local guy to commit to them,'' he said Friday in talking with the Times about his commitment. "I felt that it was a great place and I felt that the coaches were going to take care of me and they know what they are doing. I just had the feeling to do it.''
UW has never had seven commitments this early (or at least not for as long as there are recorded dates of when players made their commitments). Tupou committed on Thursday after attending UW's practice.
The 6-3, 270-pounder (his estimates of his height and weight) plays defensive end and tight end at Archbishop Murphy but projects as a defensive lineman at UW, having earned a four-star rating from Scout.com.
Tupou, who is Mormon, said he had offers from BYU and Washington State and had begun to get interest from other Pac-10 schools --- he had also recently taken unofficial visits to Oregon and Oregon State. But he said he had no qualms about making an early decision.
"I just thought it was the right moment to do it,'' he said. "I just always loved the UW and UW has always been in my heart. It just felt good.''
What he also wanted to do was stay close to home. He has a large extended family that includes cousins Niko and Mikey Tupou of Inglemoor. Niko is a sophomore and Mikey a freshman and both play football.
"I wanted to be able to stay close by and watch my cousins grow while they play football and hopefully open up the door for them to go to UW, too,'' he said.
Another family member is former UW standout OL Siupeli Malamala, who was a star on the 1991 national title team. Tupou's father and Malamala are cousins.
Tupou said he plans to take a mission for his church, likely after his first year at UW, which would be the 2011 season. He said he would likely be gone for two years and then return.
"As of right now, I plan to take two years off to go on my mission,'' he said. "I'll probably go (to UW) my freshman year than leave my sophomore year.''
With his college plans settled ---- he said there's a chance he would take a visit down the road but doesn't envision changing his mind --- he might not hit the camp circuit too hard this summer. However, he said he does plan to attend camps in Utah and BYU that are run by Polynesian coaches. Each, he said, has a strong emphasis on academics. Tupou said he has yet to take his SAT and the camps each include some prep work on taking such tests.
Tupou was recruited primarily by UW assistants Johnny Nansen and Jeff Mills.