California splurged on another offer Wednesday this week, pulling the trigger on four-star tight end Camren McDonald, defensive lineman Aaron Maldonado (rated as a three-star offensive guard), four-star running back Chris Brown, Houston Opening Regional offensive line MVP Tyrese Williams and four-star athlete Toa Taua. After offers to four-star Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton linebacker Salua Masina and 2018 quarterback Colson Yankoff early this week and last weekend, the Bears got back at it in a big way with Toa Taua, a four-star athlete out of Lompoc (Calif.).
The linebacker/running back Taua already had offers from Washington State (as a running back), Nevada, Hawaii, New Mexico, Iowa State and San Jose State. The Cyclones and Cougars are particularly persistent suitors.
"It was a call from coach Tui," Toa Taua said. "He put me on the phone with coach [Justin] Wilcox, and Wilcox offered me. I talked to the offensive coordinator (Beau Baldwin), and it went down pretty fast.
"I know they've got a fresh, new program. They're willing to work with me, and I just like the whole atmosphere they've got up there, and the history of what I play -- running back -- the history of running backs they've put out in the past."
From their conversation on Wednesday, it's looking like Baldwin will be coaching running backs, at least until a new 10th on-field assistant could be added in April, thanks to pending NCAA legislation.
The offer came as a surprise to Toa Taua, who rushed a team-high 184 times for a team-leading 1,777 yards this season, with a staggering 28 touchdowns and 11 100-yard games out of 13 starts for the 12-1 Braves.
"We've been talking for about a month, but it just happened to be today that they finally offered me," he said. "I didn't know they were going to offer me, so soon."
Toa Taua also caught seven balls for 59 yards, and racked up 41 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, one interception, one pass breakup, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
"One of the coaches told me that they'd like to see me play offense, most of the time, but if I can, if I'm willing to, I can play defense," said Toa Taua. "I feel more comfortable on the offensive side, just because of how well I know it."
Toa Taua has been playing on both sides of the ball as long as he can remember, but offense, he said, just hits his brain better, and Cal would seem to agree. Tuiasosopo has been keeping tabs on Toa Taua ever since he started recruiting his big brother, so he knows the type of skills that the younger Taua brings to the table.
"He started recruiting me when he was at UCLA, talked to me over there when he coached my brother," Toa Taua said. "He recruited my brother, as well, in his high school days. Definitely, [Tuiasosopo] makes me feel a lot more comfortable. The relationship is there, it's building as we go. He knows me, I know him, we have a relationship building. I'm looking forward to a lot."
"I played against Max Gilliam, one of the quarterbacks, and Chase Garbers," he said. "Garbers is one heck of a player, man. He really knows the game. He is a true quarterback. I like that guy. When I see the class coming in, and our upcoming class, and it's looking bright."
Toa Taua has a 3.0 GPA, and plans on taking the SAT this May.
"I want something I can fall back on, with academics," Toa Taua said of his wish list for a prospective school. "I want something I can go to, if football doesn't work out. Also, the living conditions, I want it to be somewhere where I feel comfortable and live for the next three or four years of my life. I want to be able to go in and start, and not redshirt, and have to take reps. I want to get my career started, and try to make a living off of it."
Toa Taua said that he will visit "in the next couple weeks."