That's the effusive and carefully-measured evaluation of Corona High School's (in California) 12-year veteran head coach John Brandom, who added, "He's as good as they come. Max has all the tools to be a college All-American and an NFL-caliber lineman. At this point, he is very polished and can help out any program as a freshman."
"Some of my [former Corona] players are at USC, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Colorado State and Boise State. Max is up there, maybe even ahead of all of them. The sky's the limit with him. Like I said, I've had a Parade All-American and he's (Tuioti-Mariner) better."
Meanwhile, Tuioti-Mariner's impressive list of college football offers is expected to mushroom by "over two dozen more offers by the end of May," according to Brandom, who based his estimate on what he has heard from college coaches around the country he has spoken with.
Coach Brandom commented that he received glowing comments from coaches and aides who observed Tuioti-Mariner last Sunday at the Nike Combine at USC. "Some of the coaches said Max did really well in the one-on-one drills and could have been a co-MVP or MVP of the combine."
For his part, Tuioti-Mariner took the high road: "Some of the coaches said something like that to me, but I was just happy to compete against the top offensive line athletes at the camp. I think I did really well. I was planning on attending BYU's Junior Day events last Friday and Saturday, but my family felt I should stay home and concentrate on getting ready for the Nike Combine."
In an interview this week with TBS, the 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound lineman identified Cal, BYU and Washington as his current top three, with the fourth probably between USC, Colorado and UCLA. Of that list, only BYU has officially offered a scholarship.
Tuioti-Mariner's top four list seemingly changes depending on whom he's talking to. In another recent interview, he listed USC, UCLA and Cal as his top choices if and when they offer him.
In follow-up TBS interviews this week with his coach and mother, Tuioti-Mariner's apparent indecision begins to make sense. "[Max] is a little bit naive in that sense," coach Brandom remarked. "I sat him down and asked him to list his top 10 choices and he said, ‘I don't know, coach.' We'll narrow it down after May to five or 10 schools, but ultimately, it's Max's choice to make."
"USC wants him to come to their one-day summer camp. A coach said they'll probably offer him at the camp. Right now, he's starting to get mail from Florida, Miami and Tennessee," Brandom continued. "Notre Dame saw his tape and said he'll be a guy they'll offer. Arizona State also said they'll offer him as well."
Tuioti-Mariner told TBS he still has no idea which football camps he will attend this summer. Not surprisingly, he hasn't even begun to think about which five colleges he will select for his official recruiting visits.
His mother, Uaealesi Josie Epenesa Tuioti-Mariner, also pointed out that "Max doesn't know where he wants to go, but it's going to be his decision. We are not going to pressure him to go anywhere.
"I'm just a proud Mom. I'm grateful for what Max has accomplished on and off the field. I didn't know he's going to be this strong monster and I'm so grateful for the blessing. We'll support him in any decision he makes.
"We're strong members of the [LDS] Church and we talked to him that if he goes to BYU that it would be fine with us because we're members. Also, there's a good chance for him to go on a mission there. He's strong and active in the Church. If he chooses to go somewhere else, that's fine with us also."
Football aside, Josie said she and husband Max constantly encourage their sports-active children that "without good grades, you're going nowhere. They have to balance getting a good education with their sports. Injuries can take away football, but no one can take away a college degree from them."
She continued: "Our family would like to see him play somewhere close, but we learned from our eldest son [Clarence, a sophomore offensive line starter at the University of Hawaii] that it's his choice and we will support our kids wherever they go. He's just a big, humble kid and a great son."
Mother Josie works for the California Department of Corrections and father Max is a long-haul truck driver and trainer for the Englund Trucking Company.
Tuioti-Mariner recently scored a 820 SAT score on his first try and he currently carries a 3.1 GPA based on his most recent quarterly report card, according to his coach, who added that UCLA and Notre Dame coaches confirmed they will offer Max when he improves his grades on two Language Arts classes he is retaking.
Coach Brandom added: "Max is a kid with great character. He'll make any program a lot better; and I don't say that about anybody. "
Statistically, Tuioti-Mariner has achieved a 5.0 forty, 4.6 20-yard shuttle, 375-pound bench, 500-pound squat, 350-pound power clean, and delivered 110 pancake blocks last season as a junior. For his on-the-field exploits, he was named 1st Team All-State, 1st Team All CIF, All Riverside County, and 1st Team All League [Mountain View League].
"Right now, I'm working out with my cousins. I plan to get down to 280-290 pounds before the season. I'm also working on a speed program with the football team and I want to get my forty down to 4.8," Tuioti-Mariner added.
Of all the college coaching recruiters, he said he has the best relationship with Colorado graduate assistant Andy Avalos, a former linebacker coach at Corona.
The main BYU coach involved in Tuioti-Mariner's recruiting is wide receiver coach Patrick Higgins. "He's a nice guy. I've met with him once and he introduced me on the phone to BYU's offensive line coach [Coach Weber]. He told me he likes how I play. He was telling me how good the BYU program is right now," he said, adding that Weber was the UCLA assistant that recruited his elder brother Clarence in high school. "[Coach Weber] said the position they are looking at for me at BYU is offensive guard or center."
Tuioti-Mariner said he was very much aware of BYU's recent gridiron success and confided he was rooting for BYU in their convincing win over the Oregon Ducks during last year's Las Vegas Bowl. "I was watching the game with my brother and some of his teammates in Hawaii. I was glad BYU won. I was rooting for them. I was surprised how good BYU was against a good Pac-10 team.
"If BYU beats Arizona and UCLA [next season], I would like them even more. I was in Provo last summer attending my cousin's graduation and they took me to the BYU campus. I really liked the campus a lot, especially the "Y" on the mountain," Tuioti-Mariner said.
With a growing list of top football schools on his continually shifting "top four," Tuioti-Mariner said, "I'm not going to commit early. I'm going to wait until I take all my trips next year."
Genesis of unusual Samoan-Caucasian "Tuioti-Mariner" surname:
Max Tuioti-Mariner, the father, hails from a family of 10 children in Samoa with the surname of "Mariner." Common among many Samoan families, some of his brothers opted to change their surnames to their family matai (chiefly title) name of "Tuioti" instead of "Mariner".
To help their children avoid the confusion of differing family surnames within their immediate family, Max and Josie (born in American Samoa) decided to legally blend the traditional Samoan family title of "Tuioti" with "Mariner", hence Tuioti-Mariner.