When freshly hired defensive line coach Joe Seumalo joined the Arizona State staff last month he said that in addition to recruiting his position group nationally, he'd pursue top targets in Hawaii, the Inland Empire section of Southern California, and, when appropriate, even go to American Samoa.
Juliano Falaniko has made it very appropriate in a hurry.
A four-star Scout300 recruit at Leone High School in Pago Pago, American Samoa, Falanaiko is one of the top linebacker prospects in the West. He just happens to live a lot farther West than any recruit the Sun Devils have pursued in years, about 5,078 miles miles away from Tempe to put a finer point on it.
The Sun Devils offered a scholarship to Falaniko earlier this month, and Seumalo will travel to the South Pacific islands capital to continue his pursuit of Falaniko during the spring evaluation period which starts April 15.
"I'm really looking forward to having a nice and decent conversation with coach Seumalo very soon," Falaniko said in a recent interview with SunDevilSource.com. "I don't know much about Arizona State, am looking forward to it.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing all these coaches when they come down in the spring."
ASU isn't alone in its recruitment of Falaniko, the No. 25 outside linebacker and No. 295 overall recruit in the 2017 class nationally. Arizona, Colorado, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, Washington and Washington State have all reportedly extended a scholarship offer. Falaniko visited Oregon last year for The Opening Regional and got to see the Ducks' program in person.
Pasefika International Sports Alliance (PISA), a non-profit organization that helps student athletes from the South Pacific, and its representative Director of Academic Officer Rachel Jennings, and Director of Player Development Keiki Misipeka have helped Falaniko and many players like him from American Samoa, Hawaii, Australia, and even parts of the continental United States get scholarships.
Falaniko's talent has made it an easy decision for coaches to plan trips to the Territory of American Samoa this spring.
"It's very humbling and a dream, and at the same time overwhelming because I might get offers and have to leave my family, my mom, dad, grandma, my sister and baby brother," Falaniko said. "But I am thankful.
"It's football, something I love to do. I never thought I would be getting all this attention and stuff. It's just attention. I have to just do what I do which is play the game I love with his football. I always keep my work in progress. There's a lot I still have to learn about the game but I thank God for blessing me with this wonderful talent. I was able to learn and pick up the game fast but still have a lot of stuff I have to learn in college."
Falaniko, 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds, is just one of many players to be recruited out of American Samoa, a collection of a handful of islands in the South Pacific that totals approximately 55,000 people and produces, per capita, more college football players than anywhere in the world.
"I know plenty of them, some are relatives and we still keep in touch," Falaniko said. "They give me advice about how to do this and that when I go to college. They're always telling me to work hard and walk the straight path. They keep advising me a lot.
"The competition is really hard out here because every school has great players. In order to be better you have to go through really good players and athletes. It just makes you better."