Introducing the 2005 Class Will Kofe

Will Kofe played his high school ball at arguably the most prestigious program in the Western part of the nation - Long Beach Poly. This along with a stellar academic record should have landed him at a top tier college program. However, his desire to go on a mission caused schools to back off their recruitment. Four years and two schools later, the defensive lineman has landed in Tempe and said that thanks to his mission the defensive lineman said that he realized some valuable life lessons.

"I learned my limits," said Will Kofe. "I know when I go too far and when I'm not working hard enough. I learned patience, integrity, and hard work. I found out who I really am and what I can do. That has helped me with football." Nevertheless, he admitted that serving in Guam, he didn't exactly rough it up like others who experienced missions in remote places of the world. "Oh yeah (smile), It was lot of distractions, I can tell you that. It was fun, but also hard."

At Long Beach Poly, Kofe was voted All-C.I.F. Division I first-team as a senior, as well as being named to The Los Angeles Times Dream Team. As mentioned, this standout three-year starter, two-way lineman, and honors student (3.5 GPA) was faced with the cold reality of schools backing off recruiting him because of his future plans.

"I told all the colleges that I was going on a mission and they all dropped me," recalled Kofe. "Montana State was the only school that didn't stop recruiting me. So I went there, and I played as a freshman (at nose guard). I knew that I was going on a mission after one year, and then go back to college. When I came back from my mission, I didn't want to go back to Montana State or walk-on anywhere else."

" I didn't have four-year colleges look me up after my mission," Kofe continued. "It's like everyone forgot me after two years (smile). Montana State was the only one who kept in contact, but I didn't feel like it was the right place for me - my old coach wasn't there anymore. So I knew I was going to a junior college."

Once he landed at Dixie State (located in Utah), Kofe was determined to make the most of his time there. Due to his academic dedication, he will now have three years to play two. "I wanted to get my AA degree in one year," he said. "I took 19 credits one semester, 18 credits another semester, and nine credits in summer school. I just worked my butt off. My counselor told me that it would be very hard to get the degree that fast and that not a lot of people accomplish that. But I knew my limits from my mission – I knew I could do it. When I was at Dixie it was definitely business before pleasure (smile)."

The defensive lineman excelled not only off the field, but also between the lines. In his one year of playing at Dixie, Kofe collected 32.5 tackles, five tackles for loss and seven quarterback sacks in 10 games. The recruiting attention soon followed. "Colorado State, Michigan State, Boise State all recruited me," he remarked. "Hawaii wanted me to commit before I went on a trip there. They said that they didn't want to spend a $1,000 on me for nothing (smile). I should have just said yes and go on the trip (laughs), but I didn't want to do that to them."

Former defensive coordinator Brent Guy got a hold of Kofe's game film and started pursuing him on behalf of the Sun Devils. Once Kofe met eye-to-eye with the coach, a positive recruiting experience with ASU started to formulate. "Coach Guy talked to me in my coach's office and we got along real well," Kofe explained. "I loved his enthusiasm and what he had to offer. I knew just by talking to him that this program was good for me."

Consequently, ASU was Kofe's only official visit. It was a trip that paid immediate dividends as evident in the lineman's verbal commitment during the trip. "It was the players that made the difference," he said. "They accepted me with open arms, and I was part of the family the minute I got here. They never ignored me; always invited me to sit down with them, introduced me to everyone, and told me everything about the program. I give it all to Ishmael Thrower – he was my host player."

There are other factors that make Kofe feel at ease at ASU. There's obviously Dixie State teammate Beau Manutai who visited and committed to ASU at the same time the lineman did, the Polynesian contingent of players on the team such as Leo Talavou and Brandon Rodd, and players such as fellow defensive lineman Jordan Hill who also served on a mission. Last but not least there's the Long Beach Poly connection with linebacker Mark Washington.

"I never knew Mark Washington, but now we have a lot to talk about," he said. "Poly was the best experience of my life. I only lost once in all my high school career. To be ranked #1 in the country felt good. We were like Rock stars – kids would ask for your autographs, we would 5,000 people at our home games…it did feel like the NFL sometimes (laughs)."

While Kofe acknowledges that the transition to ASU has been tough at times, he claimed that his experiences thus far can give him the edge on other newcomers. "I already have two years of experience, and I had one of the best coaches in the nation at Long Beach Poly," he said "So I feel like I have a head start in stuff like reading the defense, offense, and playing smart. But I need to raise it another level now in the Pac-10. It was hard playing football after the mission, and it's gonna be hard now playing at this level after playing at Dixie. But with hard work I'll be fine."

Currently, Kofe and the rest of the team are laboring in earnest during the school's off-season conditioning program. "I'm gradually getting into the program," he remarked. "I do have a long way to go to get in shape, but I'm getting used to it now. I never weight lifted like I do now. I'm still around 280, and the coaches want me to gain 10 pounds of muscle." He explained that the motivation for success is actually in front of his eyes every time he sets foot in the basement of ASU's ICA building. "Beau and I are partners in our morning weight lifting at 6 a.m.," he said. "In the weight room there's a big picture of the stadium full of fans. Him and I picture ourselves walking into that stadium and everybody there's cheering. That really pumps us up."

Kofe is looking forward to the upcoming spring practice sessions, but confessed that he's "Expecting the unexpected." One thing he can be certain of is that he won't be sitting on the sidelines for long period of times in 2005. "There's a lot of pressure on me right now," he explained. "The coaches said ‘we didn't recruit you to redshirt. We want you to play this year.' That's why I'm working hard, because I'm expected to contribute this year." Kofe added that he plans on staying in Tempe over the summer and participate both in the team's off-season conditioning program, as well as take classes.

The team's positive chemistry is an aspect that is brought up more often that not when a ASU is pursuing a recruit. In the lineman's experience, that positive vibe is still alive and well now that he's an official member of the maroon and gold. "This is the tightest team I've ever been on," he said. "It's like I grew up with everyone here. We're all brothers and we all push each other. Everybody wants to work hard and win, and nothing will stop us." Will Kofe has already proved that anything is possible…

Recruit Profile


Will Kofe

Junior College

Dixie College







Date of Birth



Long Beach, Calif.


"ATI – that's my Tongan name."

Favorite TV Show


Favorite Movie


Favorite Singer/Band

"Bob Marley"

Favorite Food

"Tongan and Polynesian Food."

Favorite Drink


Favorite Athlete

"Eddie Jones"

Favorite Pro Team

"Los Angeles Lakers"

Person you most admire

"My father. He set a good example for me."

First Football Memory

"I was a freshman in high school, and I was putting on pads for the first time. I didn't know how to put on the pads and I was just stuck there in the locker room after everyone left. My coach had to help me out. I do know how to put them on now (smile)."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"I got straight A's in junior high and most of high school."

Why did you choose ASU?

"It just felt good when I visited. It's hard to explain."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"I'd like to have a family, and hopefully be a lawyer."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories