Top All-Poly Performers Talk About Experience

It was time to put the pads on and make some noise. Suited up in full gear, players from various states hit the field with anticipation and unrivaled excitement. Chanting along the sidelines, six teams got ready to face off against each other and players got ready to give all they had in the hopes of catching the eyes of at least one of the many college coaches on hand.

It was hot out there on the football field, and not just because of the bright Utah sun beating at noonday. Players charged with emotion and adrenaline at Alema Te'o's All-Poly Camp last week were boiling over as pads and helmet collided to the sounds of jeers and cheers from onlookers.

"Oh, the competition is huge!" said BYU, Utah and Kansas offensive lineman recruit Ryker Mathews. "All of these players that you're going to talk to later on are all great players. Half or more of these kids have or could get offers to go places, and the All-Poly Camp really helps with that. They're tough, hard-hitting kids and all great players."

"This was my first time here, and it was a really good experience being able to play with all these great players," said 6-foot-2-inch, 255-pound Talitiga Poloai, who was labeled as an athlete. "Where I'm from back in Sacramento, California, there's not as many big-name people hitting you. You gotta work on technique and if you don't use it out here, you'll get rolled over."

Poloai, who benches 375 and squats 550, is being recruited by UCLA, Cal, Boise State and has an offer from Washington State.

"On defense I play defensive tackle, end or nose, or middle linebacker," he said. "The one thing you have to do is never give up on a play out here. You have to hit guys hard but make sure you're still fundamentally sound when you do it. There's a lot of tough kids out here that take what they've learned from the coaches earlier in the day, and then they'll use that when it comes time to hit you in the mouth. It's been a really good experience for me."

But it wasn't just scrimmaging fun in the sun until the camp was done, so to speak. Rather, All-Poly Camp coaches such as Steve Kaufusi (BYU), Marcus Tuiasosopo (Arizona), Chad Kauhaahaa (Utah State), Johnny Nansen (Washington), Lance Anderson (Stanford), Junior Falevai (Idaho St.), Mike Fanogo (Wyoming) and Kalani Sitaki and John Pease (Utah), just to name a few, put participants through the ringer. They instructed players in various techniques designed to hone their abilities for position mastery.

"I learn a lot here," said Washington commit Tani Tupou. "The one thing that I learned more this time around was working with my hands with [former Denver Bronco] Coach Fatafehi. He really emphasized working hands and how to use your hands in certain ways. It's great working with all of these college coaches and letting them coach you up to show you how things are done at the next level. They really give you some good tools that will prepare you for the next season and college ball."

"I learned a lot about having a work ethic," said 6-foot-1-inch, 260-pound Bingham freshman defensive lineman Lowell Lotulelei. "When you play little league, you just go out there and play. Now you have to focus on technique and other things, but to get better you have to have a good work ethic and that's what I learned."

Bingham's Seni Fanuku, who has committed to the University of Utah, said the aspect of the All-Poly Camp that had the biggest impact on him wasn't football-related.

"At the All-Poly Camp, they always push education first here," said Fanuku. "I think that part of the camp was the most beneficial part for me. Then after that they push the fundamentals of football. It's not always about the big hit but being fundamentally sound."

The All-Poly Camp is designed to provide prospects with an understanding of the NCAA Clearinghouse qualifications and next-level instruction from many Division I, Division II and junior college coaches. Thus, the opportunity to attend the camp is something that many can't pass up, especially those that can't afford the cost of attending various camps across the country.

"Oh man, we've got kids coming from all over just to have the opportunity to be here at this camp," said Tupou. "You see kids coming from all around just for the chance to be a part of this. We've got kids from Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, Arizona, California and from everywhere. We've also got 30-plus college coaches out here.

"You get everything in one. You get SAT prep even before you get a chance to go out onto the field with the coaches. This year, we got a lesson in nutrition and how to increase your fitness level. Most camps cost around $500 just to attend, and if you were to add up the hotel cost while camping here, it probably cost about the same overall. But at this camp, you got all the Poly boys and the palangi [Caucasian] boys coming together as one. The atmosphere, training, experience and value you get at this camp is by far better than any other."

Fanuku also heaped a lot of praise on the All-Poly Camp.

"This is the best camp in the nation," said Fanuku. "You've got NFL guys helping out here, and some of the best college coaches out here in the country teaching us how to play football. Then you have some of the best players out here, and players looking to get noticed out here competing. This is the best camp around by far."

Camp MVPs

QB Leon Jenkins: Lincoln HS, Tacoma, WA
RB Erik Takanaki: West HS, UT
RB Nate Lutu: Ramona HS, CA
QB Bo Reilly: Valley Center HS, CA
TE Zane Smith: Brighton HS, UT
RB Jeremiah Laufasa: Juanita HS, WA
QB Jason Thompson: Kennedy HS, WA
WR Dillon Appel: Snow Canyon HS, UT
QB Derek Newell: Brighton HS, UT
S Zach Keiser: Coeur-D'Alene HS, ID
DL Lawrence Vaituu: Jordan HS, UT
OG Ryker Mathews: American Fork HS, UT
ATH Jared Fanua: Juanita HS, WA
CB Walter Santiago: Kamehameha HS, HI
LB Karl Mickelsen: Morise HS CA
DB Taylor Taliveu: Aiea HS, HI
DT Tani Tupou: Arch Bishop Murphy HS, WA
ATH Talitiga Poloai: Luther Burbank HS, CA

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