Introducing the 2006 Class: Zach Niusulu

A verbal commitment early in the recruiting season is always a great way to start generating excitement for the upcoming year. Thus, ASU was overjoyed when Zach Niusulu made his pledge to the maroon and gold in April 2005. There were some anxious moments in Sun Devil country, as he visited other schools following his commitment, but in his mind he never strayed from his original declaration.

"I was trying to see what else was out there, but I always knew in back of mind that Arizona State is where I wanted to be," said the 6-3 305 Zach Niusulu. "I just decided to take my trips and see what's out there, but I was always committed to Arizona State. I don't think the coaches were cool with my visits, but I always stressed to them that I was gonna be a Sun Devil and come to Tempe to be there the next five years."

Arizona State wasted no time targeting this talented prospect from Barstow (Calif.) High School. Niusulu started receiving information about ASU during his sophomore year, and the following season he already met with his recruiting coach. "In spring practice my junior year I actually got to talk to Coach Osborne," recalled Niusulu. "He was asking me more about school than football. I was impressed because school is a higher priority for me. That really caught my eye."

The Sun Devils marked his first scholarship offer, and shortly after that he verbally committed to ASU. Aside from being the first ones to extend his a scholarship offer, it was once again the academic aspect that sold the defensive lineman on the maroon and gold. "I felt that they had all the attributes I was looking for in a school," explained Niusulu. "They made sure everyone was in class, and that you're the best student-athlete on the collegiate level."

It seems like every year, an ASU prospect goes unnoticed by other schools until he gets offered by the maroon and gold and consequently commits to them. This was again the case with Niusulu, who listed schools such as Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, California, and Arizona stepping up their recruiting efforts after it was made known that the defensive tackle committed to ASU.

Niusulu certainly appreciated the attention, since being in Barstow qualified for being off the beaten recruiting path. "I knew it was gonna be a struggle getting noticed here in the lonely desert (smile)," he said, "and I didn't go to any camps. But my brother (C.J. Niusulu who played for UCLA) was getting recruited a couple of years before me, and every coach that came to our house to talk to him, was looking at me saying ‘dang, he's only in eighth grade (laughs)? He's already 6-2.' So some schools knew about me."

Then again, being from Barstow, which has a similar terrain and climate as Tempe, did help ASU's cause. "The whole area around ASU is a lot like Barstow," admitted Niusulu. "It really reminded me of home. I didn't want to get homesick, so coming to Tempe was the right choice (laughs)."

The defensive tackle did end up visiting Oregon State in the fall, and was contemplating visiting Arizona as well. However, maybe there never should have been a reason to worry about his commitment to begin with. After all, Niusulu's father is a Sergeant Major in the Marines (stationed at Camp Pendleton, and is about to retire in July after 30 years of service), and commitment isn't a word that is taken lightly in the Niusulu household. "There was no goofing around, it was all discipline,' said ASU's incoming freshman on the environment he grew up in. "He stressed academics a lot. He almost didn't pay attention to what we did in football. He would say stuff like ‘yeah, you had a good game, but how well are you doing in school?' Sports was a good reason for us to get out of this place, but academics were always more important to him. That's why my father really fell in love with the Scholar-Baller program at ASU." Niusulu added that he plans to major in Electric Engineering at ASU.

Barstow high school isn't one to keep stats, as it strongly stresses the value of teamwork. Niusulu knows for certain that he had ten sacks his senior season, and being named All-San Bernardino County certainly backs up that accomplishment. "I just need a little more quickness," he said of his skills. "but I have a good get off the ball. I can bull rush and catch the offensive linemen off-guard, but I would like to improve my other techniques." These days, he's following the workout plan that was given to him by ASU's strength and conditioning coaches. The defensive tackle also kept in shape as he competed in the shot put and discuss throw at Barstow, breaking many school records during his prep career.

Niusulu plans to come for the school's bridge program in late June, and start the team's off-season conditioning program at that time. He's still recovering from a shoulder injury that occurred late his junior year and re-surfaced his senior year. Thus, he stated that this injury will be the major factor that will dictate whether he will redshirt or not.

Zach Niusulu wasted no time giving his verbal commitment, and once he arrives in Tempe, he definitely plans to put his time to good use. "I'm here to do well in football and academics," he said, "and take advantage of all the opportunities I will have here."

With that healthy mindset and athletic ability, Zach Niusulu is starting to pave a path to greatness on and off the field.

Recruit Profile


Zach Niusulu

High School

Barstow High School (Barstow, Calif.)







Date of birth



Victorville, Calif.


"Big Zach"

Favorite TV show


Favorite movie

"Gangs of New York"

Favorite singer/band

"I like Samoan Music"

Favorite food

"Anything Italian"

Favorite drink

"Orange Juice"

Favorite athlete

"Shaquille O'Neal"

Favorite pro team

"Tampa Bay Buccaneers"

Person you most admire

"My father. He's been through it all and knows everything there needs to be known about people."

First football memory

"I was in 3rd grade. That's when I first played football and I took my team to the championship."

One thing most people don't know about me

"I play the piano, bass guitar, guitar, and drums. I like to experiment in everything, but I'm trying to specialize on the piano."

Why did you choose ASU?

"The staff. They keep everyone on top of their game and that's what I'm all about."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"Hopefully a professional football player. If that doesn't work, I'd like to open my own business."

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