Introducing the 2004 Class: Leo Talavou

There was a point in the recruiting process that the Fountain Valley offensive lineman was believed to be all but headed to Washington State. In this exclusive DevilsDigest interview, Talavou recalled the events that led him to his change of heart, and discussed his expectations as his embarks on his Sun Devil career this fall.

Leo Talavou was arguably ASU's most coveted out-of-state offensive lineman prospect. He was rated the top offensive lineman at the SoCal Nike Camp last spring, which naturally caught the attention of the Sun Devil coaches. "Coach Osborne came out to see me my junior year," said Talavou. "He's a real cool guy and I liked him right away. A few months later I went to ASU's one-day football camp. They showed me around campus, and it was real nice. They offered me a couple days later."

Luckily for the Sun Devils the timing of their offer proved to pay valuable dividends down the road. "San Diego State was the only other school to offer me before Arizona State," stated Talavou. "Washington State, Colorado, USC, Hawaii are some of the schools that offered me after ASU. I liked that ASU offered me early and were always loyal to me, and always in contact with me. Even though San Diego State was the first one to offer, they lost contact with me early. ASU was always calling me and seeing how I'm doing. That was a big part of my decision to sign with them"

In an interview to TheInsiders' Allen Wallace in late November, the lineman stated that there was a 70% he was headed to Washington State. Ironically, the weekend he visited Pullman he witnessed the Cougars prevail over the Devils. "There was a point when I thought I was going to go there (Washington State) for school," recollected Talavou. "My brother Kelly plays in a school in Idaho, and it was only five miles from there. So I thought it would be cool to play close to him."

An in-home visit by the Sun Devils came a few days after his trip to Pullman, and the long-standing relationship between player and school eventually prevailed. "My dad told me that I should make the best decision possible," said Talavou, "and not go to a school just because my brother plays nearby. He said that I should go to a school that would help my career. I liked Arizona State because it was far enough to get away from home, but close enough to come back. They treated me well and I liked my visit up there."

Another factor that played a large role in the lineman's decision was the ASU's coaches' opinion that he could see some action in his freshman year. "They told me with a couple of the linemen leaving I have a good chance of playing early," he commented. "Washington State made it sound that I would redshirt, and ASU said I could make an impact early. If I had to redshirt that's OK. When you redshirt you get to learn the system better and work more in the weight room."

Despite the fact that Talavou also played defensive tackle (an area of great need for ASU) in high school, he was told that he would play exclusively at offensive line when he dons the maroon and gold. "I like playing on the defensive line," he said. "But I know I'm a better offensive player. On defense you have to balance it and know when to be aggressive and when not to be. On offense you just go after it every play. I know that with my size I'm better off playing on the offensive line."

Talavou added that he feels he's a solid run blocker, but could use some improvement as a pass blocker – a trait he believes is crucial to success when he plays for the Sun Devils. "ASU's offense is more like the NFL," Talavou explained. "They pass a lot, so it will help me with my pass blocking. To get ready for the NFL, you have to be a good pass blocker, and I think this offense can prepare me for the NFL."

The incoming ASU freshman said that he plans to come to Tempe in June to work out with the team, but will not be part of the school's bridge program. As far as his academic eligibility, he believes he's on the right path. "If I keep up my grades I'll be qualified."

Talavou was voted The Most Valuable Player along the offensive line at the prestigious Cali-Florida High School All-Star game. That honor is just one more in a long list that he has received during his high school career. Nevertheless, he told us that he has no problem staying grounded in face of all the praise. "I don't worry about the accolades," he remarked. "And if I paid more attention to it, I don't think it would affect my game. I'm just not that type of person who pays too much attention to what other people say about me."

That being said, Sun Devils fan wouldn't mind if some more rave reviews would be coming his way during his ASU tenure.

Recruit Profile

Name

Leo Talavou

High School

Fountain Valley HS (Fountain Valley, Calif.)

Position

OL

Height

6-4

Weight

320

Date of Birth

4/5/86

Birthplace

Santa Ana, Cailf.

Nickname

"Everyone just called me Leo."

Favorite TV Show

"The Simpsons."

Favorite Movie

"Scarface."

Favorite Singer/Band

"Xzibit."

Favorite Food

"Pasta."

Favorite Drink

"Gatorade."

Favorite Athlete

"Ray Lewis."

Favorite Pro Team

"San Francisco 49ers."

Person you most admire

"My father."

First Football Memory

"Making my first tackle in my freshman year. I knocked the guys five yards back (smile)."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"I'm an easy going guy, and I don't get mad easily. On the field it's a different story."

Why did you choose ASU?

"Playing in the Pac-10, and a chance to play early."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"In the NFL (smile). If that doesn't work out, I'd like to be a chiropractor or work in sports medicine."

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