Friday was the first time that three-star 2018 receiver Tuni Fifita had ever visited a college, as a recruit, and, appropriately enough, this one was close to home.
"Coach Tuiasosopo and coach Tuioti have been trying to get me there for three weeks, but I didn't have a ride over there, with my sister," Fifita said. "On Friday, we had time to go, so we BARTed up there and took a visit."
Fifita, who came with his sister, 12 years his senior, had been to Berkeley before, to watch his cousin Vita Vea play the Bears last November, but grew up with USC as his favorite team. He moved to the Bay Area when he was nine-years old. After his trip to watch Vea and Washington this November, this was his first trip as a true-blue recruit.
"Once coach Tuioti took me on a tour, it expanded my horizons," Fifita said. "The University, he showed me everything over there, what they were really about, other than football. He wants me to finish school. He was talking about, since I'm Polynesian, it's better for the next generation, coming up, so we can inspire younger ones to get schooled up. The campus was really nice. I talked to the head coach, coach Tuioti, coach Tuisasosopo and the other coaches."
The Island connection for the Tongan Fifita was a big plus. Fifita's sister said he should take even more visits to Berkeley.
"That's more than a connection; it's hard to explain," Fifita said. "You can open up to them about life experience, because they come from a similar background. It was actually pretty cool. To have two coaches be that, and have those two coaches recruiting me, I like that a lot."
Fifita, who stands at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, has offers from Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Jose State, Utah, Washington State and Wyoming, but not from the Bears, quite yet. Utah State and Oregon State, Fifita said, are close. He's got a 3.1 grade point average this year, but needs to bring up his 2.5 overall mark.
Last season, Fifita threw 12 passes, completing 6 for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns, while catching 33 balls for 487 yards and 6 more scores. He added 145 punt return yards and 60 kickoff return yards, for good measure.
"They want me to come out to their camp on June 10, and they want to see me," Fifita said. "They want to see me over there before they really start talking about an offer or anything like that, but they said they really like me. They said that they liked me. They introduced me to the receiver coach, and I think they want me to play receiver. Most colleges are looking at me as a Y or a tight end, or a bigger receiver, but they're looking at me as a receiver."
While on the visit, Fifita chatted with wide receivers coach Nick Edwards.
"He said he wants me to come out to the camp, and he's a really cool guy; I like him a lot," Fifita said. "The players were telling me that they liked the new staff, a lot, and that they connected with them really well."