Competition Hot and Heavy for Vince Feula

Despite its late arrival to the recruiting party for this highly coveted second team JC All-American, the Cougars are quickly making up for lost ground – even as rival head coaches and assistants schedule weekly visits to the Long Beach home of Vaotupua ("Sefo") and Ferila Feula.

At stake is the dotted line signature on Feb. 4 for Vince Feula, a 6-1, 320 pound defensive tackle who started briefly as a redshirt freshman for the Arizona Wildcats.

Academic challenges, however, sidetracked Feula's Division I career course and he enrolled at Cerritos Junior College last season, registering 85 tackles and seven sacks on his way to also being named to the 2003 All-California JC team.

Sitting on firm scholarship offers from Colorado State, Fresno State, Utah, Hawaii and BYU, Feula said Cal-Berkeley was also interested until they learned he could only play one year at another Pac-10 school because of the conference's transfer policy. He will have two years to play two at any school outside the Pac-10.

"I didn't visit BYU when I came out of high school, even though my dad wanted me too. I was recruited by Coach (Ken) Schmidt then, but I committed after my first visit to Arizona.

"Steve (Kaufusi) came in pretty late in the recruiting process – less than a month ago, but he's recruiting me hard now. He's a real down-to-earth guy and seems to be a player's coach. I could see myself playing for him down the road," Feula said.

With his official visit to Provo scheduled Jan. 16, Feula noted his top three schools right now. "Of all the schools I've visited, probably Colorado State is first, Utah and then Fresno State. It has a real football atmosphere over there at Colorado State and I really like the coaches. The head coach (Sonny Lubick) is a real players' coach. That's what I like."

Interestingly, Feula's father, Vaotupua, whom most people refer to as "Sefo", told he called BYU coaches in October to see if there was any interest in recruiting his son because the family are active LDS members. "BYU is always my favorite. They recruited him (Vince) real heavy out of high school, but he went to Arizona instead. To me, that's (BYU) my first choice this time.

"BYU got into the picture late this time. I called them up in October and told them my son's a member, but they didn't respond until November or December," Sefo said.

Kaufusi was the first Cougar coach to respond and did not start calling until November. He has not let up since.

"I've talked to Kaufusi," Sefo said. "So far, he's the only one (BYU coach) I've met. Sonny Lubick (CSU head coach) and Pat Hill (Fresno State head coach) have been to the house and they've been very aggressive. Fresno State and Utah (Mike Tuiasosopo) send their coaches to the house every week. They really want him,"

What all these competing college coaches covet is an athlete that registered a 4.9 forty, while at Arizona. He was one of the strongest players on the entire Wildcats squad as a freshman. Moreover, he currently lifts a 460-pound bench press, 730-pound squat, and a 385-pound clean and jerk.

Sefo added that "Colorado State and Utah are his (Vince's) best visits so far. Colorado State stood out, but he's excited about visiting BYU. He's looking forward to seeing the school.

With his son scheduled to graduate in spring, Sefo mentioned his top priority for his son this time around is "education. That's my main concern now. I want Vince to go where he will get all the academic support he needs. He's keeping all his options open right now, but he'll go to a place where he will play right away."

Vince confirmed his father's succinct evaluation. "I'm looking for a school I can come in and play right away; a place that has a good academic support system.

"I'm looking forward to checking BYU out. Everyone talks highly about it. I heard the coaches are real good and their facilities are one of the top in the country. Also, the academics are really good. The location of BYU is also good. I have family in Salt Lake City and St. George," he said.

Feula has scheduled his final visit Jan. 23 to Hawaii. "They're a really good program. June Jones is a proven coach. I'm looking forward to going there. I'm sure it will be a great experience.

"Overall, my family wants me to go to a place I'm going to be happy at."

Frank Mazzotta, his head coach at Cerritos Junior College, told that Feula "is right up there with the best players we've had here. The Arizona coaches told me if they had had him (Feula) this year, there's not a Pac-10 guy that could have blocked him."

He added that "he's an average looking guy, but he just makes plays. He just had a knack for the football. He's a great kid; an awesome kid. He has great athletic ability and strength. (Wherever he goes) "They aren't going to have any problems with him at all.

On an unrelated note, Coach Mazzotta's son Casey, now a defensive coordinator at Fullerton Junior College, was a starting safety at BYU in 1992. In addition, Cerritos' athletic director, Dr. Dan Smith, is also a BYU alumnus.

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