Introducing the 2006 Class: Alex Fa'agai

Ten sacks and 50 tackles in six games. That was Alex Fa'agai's stat line. He was well on his way to a stellar sophomore year. However, a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of 2005 and caused many colleges to drop him from their recruiting plans. ASU, who happened to hire his former coach, continued to pursue him. Ultimately, their efforts helped convince him to sign with the maroon and gold.

An injury for a senior in high school or a sophomore in junior college, is extremely devastating. It usually robs the player from the ability to fully showcase his skills and land in a desirable program. Alex Fa'agai felt that this could be his fate as well. "I was bummed out," recalled the Foothill Junior College standout. "I wanted to finish the season strong and pad my stats in my last year in JC. The injury was also frustrating because I already missed three games my freshman year. But when I had two Pac-10 schools still recruiting me, and inviting me to visits, that made the rehab easier."

The other Pac-10 school vying for his services was Oregon State. At the time, it was a desirable destination. Luckily for the Sun Devils, they were able to sway the defensive end away from the Beavers. "I guess I was gullible," Fa'agai remarked. "Whatever I saw I was gonna take, so I committed to Oregon State. But after seeing Arizona State, I saw that they had more to offer. I appreciated that Oregon State had me visit after my injury, but they wanted me to play defensive tackle. I didn't have much experience playing that position. ASU wanted me to play defensive end, so that was another reason I chose ASU. I love playing defensive end. It's just an adrenalin rush chasing quarterbacks (smile)." The defensive end added that those are the only two schools he visited. Aside from those Pac-10 foes, Kentucky was the only school that to offer the defensive end a scholarship.

The hiring of Foothill's former Defensive Coordinator, Josh Brown, as the new Graduate Assistant for ASU's football team went largely under the radar. Nevertheless, it was naturally key in landing Fa'agai in Tempe. "Arizona State came and saw me the spring before my sophomore year," said Fa'agai. "I really liked the program, and I was impressed when I saw them play USC. I was recruited to ASU by Coach Helfrich. Then he left, and I didn't hear from them for a while. When Coach Brown came to ASU he refreshed their memories and that was it."

Fa'agai visited ASU the weekend before signing day, and was deeply impressed with what eventually will become his new surroundings. "The coaching staff…the players were all cool," he said. "They have great chemistry. I liked the facilities too, and especially the educational part of it that's headed by Jean Boyd. They have great resources like tutoring, computer lab, checking out a laptop so you can do homework at home…and of course all the Polynesian players on the team made me feel at home."

Fa'agai attended Independence High School in San Jose where was the league's Most Valuable Defensive Player and team captain his senior year. He was also an all-league selection in both his junior and sophomore years. At Foothill he was a two-year starter, and also served there as a captain. Prior to his injury, his playing weight was 265 lbs. but due to his forced inactivity, he stands now 20 pounds heavier. "I have good hands, but my footwork can get better," he said as he described his skills. "I'm bigger than other defensive ends, but I need to get better in the weight room and lift more pounds than I am right now. I'm have a lean body and I don't look like I weigh 285."

The question whether he will be healthy enough to go full speed at Camp Tontozona is one that currently remain unanswered. "My rehab is going well," Fa'agai remarked. "I'm running on the field, but not conditioning. I'm not 100% yet, but I expect in a couple of months to really work out. I'm gonna be at ASU in the summer because my rehab will be better there. The trainer will look at my knee and see how much I can do."

"I don't know if I'll be ready for camp," Fa'agai continued. "It's all about what the trainer thinks, and how my knee will feel when I'm really working out and putting a lot of pressure on the knee. I have a year to redshirt, and if I have to sit out this season I'm OK with that." The defensive end added that he also plans to attend summer school at ASU. He has two classes left to finish up for his AA degree, and he feels confident that he can wrap up his those degree requirements when school concludes in early June.

Under the circumstances, things have worked very well for Alex Fa'agai. A severe injury at the time when you're marketing yourself to Division I programs, could have yielded much different results for the defensive end. "I'm real fortunate," he admitted. "It feels good to have all those opportunities even though I was injured. Things did work out really well and I'm excited to get on the field and be 100% healthy."

When investing funds, higher risks usually result in higher benefits. This is sometimes true in the recruiting world as well. Thus, a solid contribution from Fa'agai could mark him as the steal of ASU's 2006 recruiting class.

Recruit Profile

Name

Alex Fa'agai

High School/Junior College

Independence High School (San Jose, Calif.)/Foothill Junior College (Calif.)

Position

DE

Height

6-3

Weight

285

Date of birth

1/21/84

Birthplace

Honolulu, HI

Nickname

"Coconut or Pineapple (laughs). I was cool with that – I was the only Polynesian on the team."

Favorite TV show

"The Jamie Foxx Show."

Favorite movie

"Anything that has ‘The Rock' in it. Gotta support my fellow Samoan (laughs)."

Favorite singer/band

"I like Reggae music. I don't like one singer more than another."

Favorite food

"Samoan Food."

Favorite drink

"Pineapple Juice"

Favorite athlete

"Pat Tillman"

Favorite pro team

"San Francisco 49ers"

Person you most admire

"My mom. She's a big inspiration to me. She motivates me the most."

First football memory

"Running back a 70-yard interception for a touchdown my senior year in high school."

One thing most people don't know about me

"People look at me and stereotyped me as not being kind (smile). But I'm a humble and kind person."

Why did you choose ASU?

"Great program. I had a great official trip."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"I'd like to go into Real Estate. Football isn't gonna last that long."

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