Better late than never for Koniseti

Many players take a unique recruiting path to their ultimate college destination and linebacker Kipeli Koniseti can certainly relate to that. The 6-3 240 Sacramento Grant standout was a member of ASU's 2009 class who didn't qualify in time to join the Sun Devils. Fast forward two years and Koniseti will now be part of the team he always dreamed of playing for.

No name on Arizona State's 2011 recruiting class list of commits was more surprising than Kipeli Koniseti. Ironically, even back in the 2009 class he was one of the less heralded Sun Devil signees. This is despite the fact he led Grant to a California state championship in 2008 and completed 80-of-144 passes (55.6 pct.) for 1,366 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior year. He also rushed 83 times for 777 yards (9.4 avg.) and nine scores.

He was however recruited as a linebacker by the maroon and gold two years ago and in this latest class as well, as he was one of the standout players at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif.

"He played great for us both at quarterback and linebacker," said College of the Sequoias head coach Curtis Allen. "He started off playing four games for us at quarterback and then played seven games at linebacker. There were even a few games where he played both positions for us. He is a natural linebacker that is very fast who runs a 4.6, but also a big physical player who benches 375 lbs. that can bring the heat. He was just laying people out when he played at linebacker. We played him both inside and outside.

"He has great defensive instincts but he is also a very smart player that doesn't bite on plays and understands coverages. He's just a ball hog that makes plays all the time."

His exploits at junior college level, albeit just for one season, brought him attention from several schools. Koniseti stated that he was all ready to sign today with Nevada (who along with ASU recruited him in earnest as a high school senior) when ASU came calling a couple of days ago. Baylor and Miami were other schools that offered the College of the Sequoias linebacker.

"I always wanted to go to ASU ever since I was in high school," Koniseti admitted. "Coach Jamie Christian always stayed in touch with my coach, seeing how I was doing. Coach Allen helped me get recruited by a lot of schools but I really wanted to go to Arizona State. Coach Christian always stuck his head out for me so I wanted to play for them (ASU).

"I had my doubts that all this was going to happen. But I'm happy that I was able to stick it out, and wait before signing with anybody because now I'm a Sun Devil."

Because Koniseti was a qualifier out of high school he now has four years to play three in Tempe. The linebacker, who played with ASU safety Eddie Elder on the same Pop Warner team, said that he religiously followed all of ASU's games in the 2010 season and could really see himself applying his skills at linebacker to good use with the Sun Devils.

"The coaches want me to learn Vontaze's spot," Koniseti remarked. "He's a great player to learn from. It's going be a challenge but that's how I like it. To be the best you need to learn from the best and beat the best. I just love how this defense flies to the ball and hits hard. They are just a swarming team.

"I know I need to do a better job shedding blocks but I know once I get to ASU the coaches will set me right."

Koniseti plans to arrive in Tempe no later than June and plans to major in criminal justice. Needless to say that summer cannot arrive quickly enough for ASU's newcomer.

"After high school I knew it wouldn't be an easy road to get back to where I wanted to be," Koniseti said. "But I had to start somewhere and I'm glad that it's happening now and I'm with Arizona State."


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