A former five-star prospect and the No. 24 player in the country on Scout.com for the 2015 class, big defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko was on the Auburn campus over the weekend for an official visit with the Tigers as he begins the search for his new home.
A 6-3, 305-pounder from Honolulu, Fehoko started 25 games in two seasons at Texas Tech and compiled 38 tackles, two and a half sacks and seven and a half tackles for losses playing in the Big 12.
Deciding he wanted a fresh start at a new program, Fehoko said Auburn was one of the places he wanted to see and he left the Plains with a very good first impression of Coach Gus Malzahn’s program and the university as a whole.
“I really was speechless,” Fehoko said of Auburn. “I really enjoyed everybody. First and foremost, I enjoyed the hospitality. Second, I really enjoyed how everybody was really transparent and just real honest about seeing me play here and how they can better my skill set and how they develop me as a football player. I think that was a big thing. Everybody was just so blunt and straight out.
“Derrick Brown was my host. Real good guy. I asked a dozen questions, and Coach (Rodney) Garner having the track record he has makes it a lot easier. Being this is my first visit, it sets the bar really high for other schools. This time around, it’s a business decision. Auburn really answered a lot of my questions so I’m intrigued to see how my next few visits go to compare to how Auburn did.”
Making the move to a new school for his final two seasons means approaching things very differently for Fehoko. Because of that he had plenty of questions he wanted answered from the coaches and players when he got to Auburn.
“First off was how I fit in, how I’d be developed, how much attention I would be getting since I’m going to be redshirting this year,” Fehoko said. “Off the field, and how that’s going to play to me going into next year. And one thing was where they could utilize me.
"It’s so nice that they have the dorms right there, the wellness kitchen, and everything is so reasonable. What’s it like around the players? What’s the room like?
“I felt like there was no jealousy. I feel like everybody’s really out to help each other. Yesterday, I saw some O-line and D-line helping each other out after practice with some sets and some pass rushes so that kind of stuff was good to me. It shows that everybody kind of works together here and it’s a big family.
“Everybody says 'Auburn family,' and when I finally got out here to see it, I’ve really seen it. I think the bar has been set pretty high, and Auburn really answered a lot of questions for me and I really enjoyed my visit here.”
One of the keys for Fehoko’s recruitment could be in the connection with a member of the Auburn off-field coaching staff. A former walk-on offensive lineman for the Tigers who has been the Director of Player Development for the Tigers since 2014, Jorrell Bostrom is from the same island as Fehoko and having him around definitely helped out while on the visit.
“It helped out a lot to know there is another Tongan here and he played here,” Fehoko said. “He really answered a lot of questions for me too being a Polynesian here in the South, what it’s like and the atmosphere is like. That really helped out a lot.
“I just enjoyed being around the guys. I’m really speechless about how my visit went. Everybody out here were just so great.”
Fehoko is scheduled to visit Louisville on March 24, LSU the following weekend on March 31 and finishing it up with trips to Ole Miss on April 7 and Georgia on April 14. He plans to make a decision following his Georgia visit sometime in mid-April.
Now older and more mature the second time around, Fehoko said this is definitely more of a business decision for him and all about approaching things the right way.
“It’s a lot easier to look for,” Fehoko said of what he’s wanting to see from schools. “Before I transferred I had a list of things and questions I wanted answered and things I wanted to look for. I think it’s not about putting on the jersey and taking a picture, it’s about how I fit in and how I can be an attribute to the team and what I can do to help. Really just going somewhere I can play because I don’t have that much time left. I think it was nice to be out here and see everything in person.
"I like the style of play in the SEC,” he added. “I feel like football is lived and breathed down here. I really like Auburn. The SEC West, in general, does a good job of competition in football and how much approach they take to their D-line and the guys up front. That really stuck out to me. I figured I wanted to put myself in the best place possible for a few years from now in the draft."