Tupou Likes Transparency

With the regular season over for D-I football programs, most college coaches are hitting the recruiting trails in an effort to solidify verbal commits and sway undecided prospects. For Grant Union High School defensive tackle Christian Tupou, one recruiter in particular stood out for his unexpectedly straightforward approach.

During his junior season, Christian Tupou lit up the stats sheet with 15 sacks and 85 tackles as a Grant Union defensive end. He was hoping to follow up his junior season's performance but some defensive changes limited his opportunity to one-up himself.

"Everything went good," said Tupou. "This was a new defense for me playing in the nose guard position. I was expecting myself to do better than I did last year. I got the tackles part taken care of but the sacks part wasn't as good.

"I think around week four, I was kind of at a low point. My coaches came to me and asked me what was wrong. I just thought this shouldn't be happening to me, I should have five sacks right about now and a bunch of tackles. My coach just told me, ‘Well, you shouldn't be worried about stats because of where you're at. It's a position where you're not going to find as much success. You're basically there to just cause disruption.' He gave me that mentality, and for the rest of the year everything was cool, and that's what I have been doing."

The Grant Union coaches changed up the defense by moving Tupou to nose tackle from defensive end. However, his stats were still rather impressive.

"We ran a 3-5 defense," said Tupou. "Our coaches changed it because they felt we had a lot of talent at the linebacker's position. I finished up at around six or seven sacks and around 95 to 100 tackles. At my school, I was trying to break the record and set some new ones too. The old record was 195 [tackles] and I had around 100. The one thing I did find out was that I was Metro League MVP."

Grant Union went undefeated throughout the season and took their section beating out Union Mine 50-0.

"Things have been good, we finished up 13-0," said Grant Union High School star defensive tackle Christian Tupou. "We took section and beat a school called Union Mine 50-0. I got a couple of tackles and a sack and we forced them into two safeties."

During his senior year, Tupou had been working on his technique. The move to defensive tackle from defensive furthered his development as a complete defensive linemen.

"In the beginning with how I used my hands and the way I ran and bending my legs and all that, I was rusty," said Tupou. "I'm glad I played three years of varsity because my last year was basically a working year in trying to smooth everything out. I worked on my stance, my get-off, my strength and my knowledge of the game and basically everything different with how I performed before my sophomore year, and then my junior and senior years were basically me just putting it to work."

College coaches from all across the country do their best to dazzle young kids not even old enough to vote. The glitter and gold works for some, but not for Tupou. He understands that life at the D-I level is not about hard work and competition, and that while coaches may be all smiles and compliments now, their tune will change once practice begins.

Recently, coaches from Nebraska and BYU visited the 6-foot-2, 260 pound defensive tackle from Sacramento, California.

"Yeah Nebraska came by and BYU came by too," said Tupou. "Coach Dennis Wagner came out. He basically talked to me about he football program, and about how there are no distractions and stuff, about academics and how they graduate like 95 percent of their student athletes.

"BYU came by last Thursday. It was Coach Doman who came out."

When BYU quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman visited with Tupou, he did not present any of the normal fluff often associated with recruiting. He did not try to wow him with visions of future glory. Coach Doman simply explained what BYU stands for and what the expectations are both on and off the field.

"He's honest and up front," said Tupou. "He basically laid it out for me and said this is what BYU is all about, and if you think you can't do this or don't want to do this, then this isn't the place for you. He said they have a lot of standards and a lot of policies about a dress code and going to church and all that."

Coach Doman took Tupou by surprise with his take it or leave it presentation.

"He said if you don't feel comfortable with this, then this is not the place for you to go," said Tupou. "I was thinking like, ‘Shouldn't this coach be telling me why I should be going here?' He was telling me how it is from like a friend's point of view. It felt good because I really know in depth what BYU is like. I've just been learning more about the school and the religion stuff. I don't really know too much about their football stuff."

Doman's open and honest approach was both informative and refreshing to Tupou without any added pressure. The frankness without fluff was a breath of fresh air for Tupou.

"That's what I like," Tupou said. "That's what colleges are supposed to do. They're supposed to tell me ‘This is what we are all about,' and sell who they are to me, and if you don't like it than this is not for you. They're supposed to show me what they have to offer, and I like that up front honesty because then I know what they have to offer and if you don't like it then you don't come. It's cool to have somebody say it to me like that. There's no need to try and cover things up and try to be nice to me to get me to go their school and all that. Just tell me what you're all about."

How has BYU's approach differed from that of other college recruiters?

"The other coaches have been like bringing all their fancy stuff and all that crap," said Tupou. "You know [Coach Doman] just said, ‘This is what I'm going to do right here. I'm going to tell you what this is all about, and then I'm going leave it up to you.' All these other coaches are just telling me all this fancy stuff. [Coach Doman] just basically laid out my thought process right there when he was saying that. That's the kind of stuff I was already thinking about and he covered it and made it easy for me to evaluate BYU."

Tupou has taken official visits to both Nebraska and Arizona. While at Nebraska, Tupou felt a bit out of place, and did not think he could live in Cornhusker territory for four or five years.

"I didn't really have a feel for it," Tupou said. "If I were to commit to Nebraska the only reason why I would commit is because of their position coach on the defensive line. I don't want that to be everything that makes my decision for Nebraska. The thing is, I'm from like the inner city and stuff and when I went over there it was a complete change around. I'm not used to how it is out there and I wasn't feeling that, even though people say you're only going there to get an education. I may be going to get an education, but I'll be going through four years of hell because I'm going to be forcing myself to get up and go to their school every day."

He also visited the Wildcats of Arizona and came away with a similar feeling following what he felt was a poorly executed trip.

"I also went out to Arizona," said Tupou. "I kind of felt like the trip was really unorganized. We got back there on a Friday night and they were supposed to take us out to eat at this fancy old place, and when we went over there we just sat and waited for over two hours for our food. That was the first negative and then when the game time came, the seats where they placed us were the worst seats I've ever sat at. At half time some people took us to go get something to eat, like they did at Nebraska, and we went onto the field and we just stood on the sidelines when our guide said he needed to use the bathroom.

"He asked us if we could go get something to eat after he used to bathroom, and so we waited and waited. We got tired of waiting so we just left and went to go look for something to eat, and then when we came back our seats, they were taken. Me and my friends just took it into our own hands and went and found our own seats. It was just, I don't know, everything was just a mess. It was basically like Nebraska, I don't see myself living there for four years.

"I'm hoping USC and Cal jump into the picture. With USC being in L.A. and Cal being close to home, I would think that these are the places that I would want to live. I'm hoping that they will jump in."

Tupou will is considering a trip with his parents to BYU in the middle of January. It would be his first chance to see if Provo and the BYU program is a good fit him.

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