Dual Threat Has Offers

Division I colleges such as San Diego State, Oregon State and BYU have recently offered a talented Southern California athlete, with possibly more offers on the horizon from other Pac-10 universities.

Rio Mesa High School dual threat Ina Liaina doesn't mind playing both fullback and middle linebacker for Rio Mesa High School, just as long as the junior bruiser is able to hit or run somebody over.

"I'm 6'1", 220 pounds," said junior Liaina. "As a linebacker I just like the contact. I'm physical and I like the contact and love playing defense. As a linebacker I had around 94 tackles. I have one more year left of high school.

"I also like playing fullback and running the ball. I just like it when I'm able to break tackles. I just like the feeling of being able to hit someone. I just like contact I guess."

Because of his aggressive nature and affinity towards physical contact, Rio Mesa High School coaches put Liaina's well-rounded talents to good use at the fullback position.

"As a fullback, most of the time I was blocking," Liaina said. "We had a great back last year and the year before. Last we had Malachi Lewis [signed with Oregon] who graduated this year. I've been blocking for him since I was a sophomore.

"I can also run the ball too. I used to play running back when I was a freshman and in Pop Warner. I played running back my freshman year but then they moved me up to varsity and had me play fullback. They just needed somebody to block for Malachi, so I tried it out and I guess our coaches liked me there.

"I didn't get a chance to run the ball all that much, but I think I had around 20 to 30 carries, or around 500-and-something yards.

The offense that Rio Mesa High School runs utilizes the fullback in place of a tight end. This means the fullback not only has to be able to block and run the ball, but he also has to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield as well.

"I had around 300-and-something receiving yards," said Liaina. "I had, I think, three rushing touchdowns and around five receiving [touchdowns] I think. I'm not really sure because I didn't keep stats on that, but the type of offense that we run is an I-formation and single back offense. We don't have a tight end type of an offense but we have an H-back position that kind of takes the place of the tight end, so that's why we pass the ball out of the backfield. I usually run shorter routes out of the backfield which takes the place of the tight end. When we run a single back play, the coaches have me on the offensive line as a tight end playing H-back."

At the college level, Liaina isn't sure what position he'll play, and it doesn't really matter, just as long as he gets the opportunity on the field.

"I just like playing both," said Liaina while chuckling. "I would rather just not come off the field. I just like playing both sides and I'm not sure which one I'll go for at the college level."

College recruiters have recognized Liaina's various athletic skills on both sides of the ball. He has received a few early scholarship offers, with more possibly on the way.

"I'm getting recruited right now," said Liaina. "I'm getting recruited by Oregon State, Washington, BYU, San Diego State, Boise State and a bunch of other colleges.

"Right now I've received offers from San Diego State, I think Oregon State, and BYU. BYU's coaches said they watched film on me and they said they liked the way I play, so they offered."

In regards to BYU, Liaina isn't a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although he is Christian and his father is a pastor, he feels the adjustments to an LDS-sponsored school might be rather large for him.

"The thing is, I know BYU is a Mormon school and I'm not Mormon," said Liaina. "It's not that I don't want to go there, but I just think it would be different if I do end up going there. I haven't taken any trips yet to any college, but by summer I think I'm going to start going on a few.

"I want to go visit Hawaii just because the people there. The reason why I like Hawaii is because it's an island like Samoa. I have a lot of family over there too. I want to go visit Oregon and USC. I like Oregon State and I like BYU too.

"I talked to BYU about all the Poly's there. I like BYU and I like their program, but I just want to go somewhere where I fit in. BYU being a religious school isn't an issue for me. My dad is Christian and he's a pastor, so it might be different for me. I just got to get out there to see more and need to check it out more.

"I would kind of like to stay close to home if I can. I'm going to check San Diego State out as well, but I've just heard horror stories about their program. My friend Jacob Manuel goes there and he was offered by them a few years ago. I guess my friend quit the team because I guess they never gave him the chance."

In regards to criteria that are most important at the college level, Liaina has taken a realistic, level-headed and mature approach in evaluating those things that will influence him most in his final decision.

"I'm looking more at my degree, along with the football program and the people," said Liaina. "I'm not quite sure what degree I'm looking to get into, but the one that I do know right now is that I really like history. I want to look into a degree associated with history. I love the History Channel and sometimes people [will] be looking at me [strangely] because my friends all watch MTV and those kinds of shows. I don't like to watch those kinds of shows. I like the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel and those kinds of shows.

"If I were to go with a list of things that are important to me, I would have to first go with the religious thing. I always have to put that first. Just with me being able to fit in and feel comfortable with the people.

"Then I would have to say academics. I mean, I love football and its fun and without football I wouldn't know what else to do. I understand that you can only play football for a little while, but academics are going to be there for the rest of your life. Without academics you can't really go anywhere and you're only going to play football for a little while. Anything can happen and then football is over for you, so you have to have a fall back, and that's academics. After academics, third would be football."

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