Visit to Berkeley Comes Up Aces for Uluave

Five hours in a cramped plane were more than worth it for Semisi Uluave, the academic-minded offensive tackle from the Islands who spent Friday in Berkeley to check out what he says is a no-nonsense, top-notch institution. Oh, and we're giving you this one for FREE.

HAYWARD, Calif. -- Friday wasn't all about the quarterbacks at Chabot College, site of the Elite 11 Nor Cal regional try-out. There were a few big bodies looking on at the proceedings, including a pair of Hawaiians, in Honolulu (HI) Punahou School offensive lineman Semisi Uluave and defensive lineman Salanoa Wily of Kahuku (HI).

Both prospects have interest from California, but Uluave became the first of the pair to visit the Berkeley campus earlier in the day on Friday (Wily will visit later this weekend), and after meeting Zach Yenser and Pierre Ingram in person during their visits to Hawaii -- and getting his offer this weekend -- Uluave wasn't disappointed.

"[Ingram] came and visited my high school, so I got a chance to talk to him," Uluave said of the Bears' recruiting coordinator. "He's a really cool guy. He's very down-to-earth, straightforward, and I really like that. I like when coaches are like that, down-to-earth. You tell them what you want to hear, and they don't sugarcoat anything. If there's something you need to work on, they tell you, straight up. There's nothing they're going to hold back, so that's really nice."

After Ingram's recent sojourn to the islands, Uluave told him that he was coming to Sunday's NFTC event at Chabot College, and the two parties set up a visit to Cal.

"He said, ‘I can set up a few things for you,'" Uluave said. "My dad and I went today and we had a really good time."

Uluave and his father – both over six feet tall and north of 300 pounds – had the misfortune of squeezing into adjacent middle seats on the way to the mainland, but the trip to Berkeley was well worth the discomfort.

"It was a little bit cramped; we both had to inhale for a while," Uluave laughed. "At first, we went and just saw the football offices and everything, saw the training rooms and everything, and we thought that we were just going to end at the stadium, but we ended up taking a tour of the whole campus. It was really nice. They showed us all the buildings and the halls, and it was really good. They told us about their world-renowned education, and that was something that I could be attracted to the most. The football, that all comes as a priority, but education is the main focus for me. It was really nice to see everything that they had. They had multiple top-ranked programs, and that was something that I respected the most."

The most impressive part of the trip for Uluave was finding out that his preferred academic track is ready-made for him at Berkeley.

"They had asked me about what I'm interested in studying, which I said was counseling and psychology," Uluave said. "They immediately knew something that I could fit into, which is called social welfare. When they said it, they said it with no hesitation. I was like, ‘Woah,' I really respect that. They were telling us that they have the second-largest MRI at the school, which reads your brain in real time, and when they ask you questions, they see what lights up, where it comes from, and that's the type of thing that I wanted to know. It's actually on campus. They showed me the largest library and everything. That was amazing. The way they knew, as soon as I said what I said, they knew how to respond, and that just goes to show how top-notch their academic program is, compared to every other one in the world."

The effusive and articulate Uluave is currently 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, and Cal isn't quite sure exactly where he'd fit, except that they'd just want him to fit into a blue and gold uniform come Signing Day of 2015.

"My main focus is, wherever they need me to be, I want to be ready by the time I get to the collegiate level," Uluave said. "Honestly, I have no preference [between guard, tackle or center], but if I could choose, I would choose tackle. But, I've heard multiple coaches talking to me about tackle, guard and center, so I'm just going to just be ready for anything."

Uluave does feel some level of familiarity with the way Cal plays on offense, since he runs in a spread system in high school, with two-foot-wide line splits. On Sunday, the three-star prospect is looking to make his case for his fourth.

"My main goal is, I just want to show everybody what I can do with my hands, because I already know my footwork can take me so far," Uluave said. "It's what I can do with my hands – punching on time and everything."


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