OL Tevita Stevens Mixing it up with the Big Boys

A chuckle was the only response a highly-recruited LDS prep offensive lineman gave when asked who he would be rooting for in the nationally televised matchup between longtime favorites USC and BYU on Sept. 18 in Provo.

Tevita Stevens, a 6-3, 295-pounder from Hemet High School (Calif.) that lists his current top five as USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon and BYU, noted that "I'm just trying to keep an open mind with everything."

He confirmed he has received two official offers from UTEP (written) and Idaho (verbal), but the BYU connection is through his brother who signed with the Cougars, but left the program last season.

"All of those schools came by my high school for a visit. Mike Empey from BYU came by my school," Stevens said. "I would love to play for BYU; they are the church team."

Stevens said he was in Provo last week on an unofficial visit and checked out the new facilities. "I didn't get a chance to talk to the coaches while I was up there, but I saw the new Indoor Practice facility, and it was really nice."

While in Provo, his brother who lives in Utah, worked out with him on the BYU practice field.

Despite the Cougar connection, UCLA and USC are his top two childhood college favorites, not to mention they are high profile programs close to home.

Stevens, who carries a 4.0 GPA and a passing 1090 SAT score, was selected First Team All-League and was named his team's top offensive lineman last year. He was also offensive line MVP at the USC summer camp.

The Tongan prep star has some impressive football bloodlines: His brother played at BYU; an uncle played at Utah State; a cousin played at Oregon State; and another cousin currently playing for USC.

Stevens said with all the options he will have to play at any number of major schools, he will get the playing time he needs to prepare himself to move to the next level in the NFL. "If I just try my hardest, I know I can get playing time." Stevens noted.

He said he receives the most recruiting mail from Oregon and Nebraska. "I've heard good things about Oregon. They have nice facilities and my cousin, Sefa O'Reilly, who played defensive end at Oregon State, said Oregon is a great place."

He said USC was "really interested" after his camp performance this summer, where he was described as "overpowering and physically dominating." It was noteworthy that among the linemen Stevens beat out for OL honors was Nick Howell, who has already been offered a scholarship by the Trojans.

Hemet head coach Andy Boynton says of Stevens, "He has very good agility and quickness. He is also an honor roll student."

In a previous interview with TheInsiders.com, Stevens said, "UCLA is my top school. I have family in L.A. and I was born there. I like it because it is close and I have always followed them." On USC: "It is also close to home and they have always had a great football tradition. My quarterback is being recruited there and we have been friends since third grade; so it would be great if we could go to the same school."

On Nebraska, he noted, "I like that lineman they had there a couple of years ago that went to the Chargers. Nebraska is sending me a lot of letters."

On Arizona State: "I hear they have the No. 1 weight room in the country and a good offensive line coach. I went to the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago when my cousin was playing for Oregon State and I got to see ASU's stadium and facilities. I was very impressed."

The ASU offensive line coach he was referring to, Jeff Grimes, has relocated to BYU…

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