Fuga Narrows the Field

One of the top defensive tackles and heavyweight wrestlers in the state of California has many scholarship offers in hand, but this 6'2", 285-pound LDS wrecking ball has two top schools in mind.

"The schools looking at me are BYU, Utah, Penn, Cal, Washington, UNLV, San Diego and a lot of the Mountain West Conference teams," Romney Fuga said. "A few of them have been contacting me, coaches from BYU, Utah and Penn.

"The schools that I'll probably [trip] to are BYU, Utah and probably Penn. Those are the schools that will let me serve a mission for sure. I just don't want to miss too much of my wrestling.

One school that has dropped off the list is Nebraska who was looking hard at Fuga and wanted him to trip out to the university. Fuga's head coach [Coach Peters] was a former defensive lineman at the University of Nebraska. Nebraska had been taking a hard look at Fuga and Coach Peters wanted his talented D-linemen to go up to Nebraska to take a good look at the Cornhusker program, but since Fuga has plans on serving a LDS mission that has changed.

"No, I never went out there," Fuga said. "They were really interested in me as a nose guard, but I think my mission kind of scared them away."

Still, there are quite a few top D-1 programs taking an interest in Fuga's talents, and even thought Nebraska has dropped off the interest list there are still plenty of quality programs calling and sending recruiting letters to his mailbox.

"The schools that have offered me are San Diego State, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State and that's pretty much it," said Fuga. "Utah hasn't offered me yet."

Strangly enough, and despite the lack of scholarship offer from the Utah program, Fuga has included the Utes in his top two favorite universities.

"I don't think I have a top three but I do have a top two," said Fuga. "It's BYU and Utah."

So why has Utah made his list of top two despite having numerous scholarship offers from other programs?

"I don't know," Fuga said. "I guess I knew they were a rival of BYU but I really didn't know much about both teams so I really didn't side with either team. I guess a few ex-players from my high school play there. Like Tommy Grady and Darryl Poston."

Although Grady or Poston have not spoken to Fuga about the U of U, their coaches have.

"[Utah's coaches] just talk to me but their not sure on how they would use me possibly on the O-line or D-line," said Fuga. "They said they were really interested in me and where happy with my grades and scores. They were just really excited."

In a previous interview with TotalBlueSports.com, Fuga referred to BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall as "Captain Moroni" and really admired his openness and how the program wears their standards on their jerseys.

"I like BYU because of what they stand for and what the program is all about," Fuga said. "I respect the standard they have there. I wish more places were like BYU where their standards were high."

Being a part of a football program that embraces a higher standard both on and off the field is what has BYU one of Fuga's top choices. The Edison High Schoo product also knows exactly what BYU coaches want him to do for them next season.

Like fellow California defensive linemen, and BYU recruit, Matangi Tonga, Fuga was selected as one of the top junior D-linemen in the state of California. He thinks his strengths as a defender will land him on the D-line at the next level.

"I think I'm better as a defensive tackle," Fuga said. "I'm big and hard to move. I'm strong and have good feet and get off the ball fast.

"The BYU coaches have said that I have a good chance of playing or possibly getting playing time on the D-line," Fuga said. "They said that if I play on the D-line, all the starting D-linemen are gone after this year. I think that is good to maybe be able to play my first year.

"Academics are part of it, too. I want to go to a place where I feel comfortable and that will help me not only to become a better football player but also help me to become a better person. I want to go to a place where the environment is more like the Mormon standards and what ever is going to help me go forward."

BYU's Defensive Line Coach Steve Kaufusi has been the primary coach recruiting Fuga and has a very good relationship with the man who could very well be his next positions coach.

"Coach Kaufusi is recruiting me," said Fuga. "I really like him a lot. He's just really friendly and he's Polynesian, obviously. I just like him. He's really nice and he's really mellow. He's my type of guy."

After losing to Loyola High School in the second round of the state playoffs, Fuga reflected back on his season positively.

"I did pretty good," Fuga said. "I played both ways the whole year. I played defensive tackle and left offensive tackle. It was tiring and hard but I did good. On defensive I had nine sacks and, I think, over 50 tackles. I got a couple of tackles for a loss. As a defensive tackle, I had three sacks in one game against Servite [High School].

"On offense I know I could do better but when you go both ways, it's tough. I can't remember if anyone got any sacks on my, but I know I got beat inside a couple times and was able to recover. I don't know if anyone sacked the quarterback though."

Now that the football season is over, Fuga is doing his best to get back into shape to contend for California's high school wrestling championship. Last year as a junior, Fuga finished fourth among California's heavyweight class but this year intends on taking it all.

"I finished fourth last year," Fuga said. "It's going good and I had practice this week. I'm just trying to get back into wrestling shape right now. I'm going to go for it."

So does wrestling help on the football field?

"It does a lot," Fuga said. "It helps condition wise and it helps you with your balance, your feet, use your weight better and to use leverage with other linemen. It helps you to stay low to the ground and use your body weight, but were it helps you the most is being mentally tough. You have to be mentally tough in that sport to never give up. I think that's the thing I've gotten most out of wrestling is to be mentally tough."

Fuga has one recruiting trip scheduled so far.

"I already have [a trip] scheduled for BYU," he said. "I go the weekend of January 6th."

TotalBlueSports.com will follow up to see how his Fuga's trip to BYU went as well as how his overall recruiting experience is proceeding.

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