With even more schools in the recruiting mix, Tialavea noted this current top four include UCLA, BYU, USC and Nebraska. All have offered except USC," he said.
"Washington sends me a lot of letters and Oregon, Louisiana State and Notre Dame have sent me a lot of letters lately. UCLA isn't going to offer me until I raise up my GPA a half point, but they told me they have the letter (scholarship offer) all written. Southern California has sent me a little stuff and Oklahoma has sent me a lot," Tialavea continued.
Like fellow Californian Pau'u, Tialavea said an LDS mission is also high on his personal list of priorities. "All the schools that have offered me said they will except for SDSU, but they just offered me like two days ago. The others will allow me to go on my mission." Tialavea said distance was also a factor since his parents did not "really want me to go far away, but I don't really care about that.
But distance might be a factor for a school Like Nebraska. I would have to think about it. All they have is corn," he joked. He quickly added, "The thing I like about Nebraska is they were the first to offer me. They were really interested and talked to me a lot. I've got tons of letters from them and they said they would allow me to go on my mission. That's probably the main thing about Nebraska. I don't know a whole lot about the place. I just know they are really interested in me and all the things they said about it."
UCLA remains one of his favored hometown choices. "I went to their junior day and I like their school. They have a good atmosphere. There coaches are really nice and said they would allow me to go on my mission too. I've followed them since I was a kid."
Though he has been lightly recruited by national champion USC, Tialavea rates them high because "they have a good program right now and they are in Southern California."
Tialavea also outlined the reasons why BYU sits among his favorites. "They are a Mormon college. They talk to me a lot and I know some people up there," he said. "A lot of my family knows people up there and the coaches. Mr. (Kimo) Marquardt, our principle (a close relative to BYU defensive linemen Daniel and Michael Marquardt), he talks to Daniel Marquardt about me."
As two-way starter on offense and defense, Tialavea said his coaches "play me all along the defensive line and offensive tackle. I just play tackle on offense, but I played both defensive tackle and defensive end last year," said Tialavea. "All I know is I had 10 sacks last year. I'm not exactly sure, but I think I had about 3 or 4 fumble recoveries."
Which does he prefer? "On offense, I just like to throw people down on the floor, but I like defense better because I like nose guard. That's the spot where I get all my sacks from. It's closer to the quarterback."
Tialavea said he was named an All-State player as a sophomore. "When I was a junior, I got second team All-CIF, First Team All-League and All-North County San Diego," said Tialavea.
Boasting a 5.1/40 and a 24-inch vertical, Tialavea is quick- footed, nimble, and a big man who possesses a low four shuttle, good lower body strength and great athleticism. "The best part of me, I think, on the football field is my quickness."
"I can squat around 415. I'm pretty good at basketball. I like basketball a little better than football. I can play point guard. My coach lets me play point guard on the basketball team, but I'm not going to be recruited because I'm only 6-3 and I'm not the skinny basketball player," Tialavea chuckled.
Along with football and basketball friend and foe Vic So'oto, a tight end prospect from Carlsbad High that is also being recruited by BYU, both found success in a local basketball tournament held in Oceanside.
"We had the Samoan tournament at Oceanside and me and Vic (So'oto) took it. It was like all around Oceanside and all the Samoans come in and they bring their friends – and our team took it. He (So'oto) was the tight end when I was playing D-End, but we spanked them. I beat him a couple of times, but he had a hurt ankle that game so he wasn't doing that well. But he's real good," said Tialavea. How about the time So'oto claimed he "knocked him out of the way" when Tialavea almost sacked the quarterback? "Nah, I beat him and his quarterback stepped up. He pushed me and I slipped," laughed Tialavea.
Close friends on and off the field despite their gentle jousting, Tialavea and So'oto express strong respect for each other. "He (So'oto) was hurt that game, but he still did really good. We beat them something like 34-12 or 7. They were missing like five people. A lot of their starters and almost their whole line was, like, out, but we would have beaten them anyways," Tialavea maintains.
Both Tialavea and So'oto plan to participate in BYU's summer camp in June. However, a sprained ankle suffered last weekend may jeopardize that plan if Tialavea's ankle doesn't heal in time. He said it might probably be better for him to not risk further hurting his ankle or have a bad showing during the camp in front of BYU coaches.
"It's a question mark about the BYU camp because I rolled my ankle last Saturday. I'm not sure if I'll go right now. I just want it to heal all the way. I'll still probably go though.
As of now, So'oto and Tialavea plan to be in Provo June 21 to visit the campus, show their stuff, and possibly meet many of the Polynesians players on the team. Tialavea said he learned about the Polynesian players on BYU's football team from a very interesting source.
"I get these magazines. A guy at my church gets two and he gives me the extra one," said Tialavea. "Yeah, I like those TOTAL BLUE SPORTS magazines."
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