On his official visit to Arizona State, Isaiah Pola-Mao learned that bitter rivals at local powerhouse programs Mountain Pointe and Chandler don't continue to be at odds as Sun Devils.
The high schools have played one another in the state championship game in two of the last three seasons.
"I got to see (former Chandler star wide receiver) N'Keal Harry," Pola-Mao said. "I thought we'd have a problem just because of the whole rivalry thing, but that wasn't an issue at all. He was real cool and we clicked.
"Of course I also got to hang out with (former Mountain Pointe quarterback) Jack Smith and it was good to be able to do that. Everything felt like a big family there."
A four-star safety recruit and the No. 123 overall prospect in the country, Pola-Mao helped lead the Pride to a 13-1 record, with the only loss coming to the Wolves on Nov. 26 against the Wolves at University of Phoenix Stadium.
At ASU two weeks later, Pola-Mao was bonding with not only former high school teammates and rivals, but also local players he didn't know previously such as redshirt freshman offensive lineman Steve Miller, who went to Gilbert.
"They're making it all about Arizona in recruiting," Pola-Mao said. "I can tell how much they're working to try to get all the best players in the state to go to ASU. There's already some really good young players there and they're just trying to get more. That's a big priority for them."
To that end, of all the recruiters Pola-Mao has interacted with two of his favorites are ASU secondary coach T.J. Rushing, and Assistant Athletics Director for Recruiting Donnie Yantis. He also cited Washington defensive coach Jimmy Lake as someone he's developed a close relationship with.
"I've been to ASU five or six times before but this one we learned more about academics," Pola-Mao. "It was more information on what it's like at ASU to be a football player, and not just on the field but classes and tutoring and everything else that goes into it. I liked hearing about all of that because education is important to me."
One of the biggest deciding factors in Pola-Mao's recruitment is early playing time. He wants to make sure he's able to get in the lineup as a true freshman.
"I want to make an immediate impact," Pola-Mao said. "I want to go somewhere that they feel like they need me to come in and do that and I'll be able to go out there and really help the defense. That's something ASU was talking about, just how they really want me to come in and big a big player for them. They haven't said what position exactly, just that they need me at safety."
ASU was just the first official visit for Pola-Mao and he's going to take offers. The Sun Devils comprise a fluid Top-3 along with USC and Washington, though that could change at any time. He has an official visit set with the Trojans for the weekend of Jan. 13, but that's all that's scheduled for now. He'd like to be able to take as many of the five allowable official visits as possible to soak up the experience.
"My high school career went by so fast," he said. "I want to be able to go back and re-live all the great moments. You have to enjoy it when it's going on because it goes really quickly."