Cal adds off-the-radar defensive line recruit Siulagisipai Fuimaono out of Okinawa, Japan

Cal football adds a true 3-4 nose tackle from all the way in Okinawa to the 2017 class in Siulagisipai Fuimaono.

Some recruits are under the radar, but on Monday, California added a 2017 commit that was completely off of it, in 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive lineman Siulagisipai Fuimaono.

Fuimaono, the son of a U.S. Army veteran, was born in Washington and spent much of his life in Arizona, where his father, Sipaisiulagi Fuimoano, retired. He has lived in Okinawa, Japan, for the last five years. Fuimaono attends Kadena High School, an American high school on the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, a part of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system, and lives off-base with his family.

Fuimaono earned the defensive MVP award his senior season, and was named all-district three years in a row. As a senior, he recorded 94 tackles, 21.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks and one forced fumble.

"We are excited about the potential we see in Siulagisipai," head coach Justin Wilcox said in a release, once Fuimaono's signing became official. "His film is good, and he is a big, strong athlete that we think will help us on the defensive line. He had a chance to visit Cal this spring, and we knew after meeting him that he would be a terrific fit at Cal both academically and athletically."

Enrolled in four Advanced Placement classes, Fuimaono holds a 3.45 grade point average.

https://twitter.com/dhillgotgaim/status/863142728535646208

Fuimaono joins a defensive line that didn't have arguably its biggest gun this spring, in James Looney, and that is still a work in progress as the Bears switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4, with a few more wrinkles beyond that, according to outside linebackers coach Tony Tuioti.

A big, rangy, powerful and long defensive athlete like Fuimaono gives the Bears position flexibility, between nose tackle and defensive end, which gives Cal more options when it comes to mixing him in on both odd and even fronts. He also potentially gives the Bears precisely what they lack on the current roster -- a true 3-4 nose tackle.

This spring, Tuioti coached the defensive line, as well as outside linebackers, in tandem with defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, who suggested the two groups meet in the same room, to function as more of a cohesive unit.

"It's just a natural fit, because when we get into our four-down front, our nickel front, we're using the best pass rusher that we have within the front five, so typically, that's going to be the outside linebackers now slotting in to defensive ends," Tuioti said of the two units training together in a lengthy interview after the end of spring ball. "We're going to take our three best interior players and see which one out of the two is the best pass rusher, so we'll be either in base or we'll be in nickel front."

Fuimaono, since he's played defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, would easily fit as one of those two interior players bracketed by the two outside linebackers in the nickel package.

Along with playing right tackle on offense, and defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, Fuimaono has played the nose in a 3-4 look with a stand-up end. He has a variety of moves at the point of attack, including bull rush, rip and swim, though he does rely heavily on the bull rush, given how much bigger he is than his competition. Given that competition, though, it's impressive that he shows the variety of moves that he does, and that he can get skinny to get between the guard and center to make tackles in the backfield.

Update/Correction 5:34 p.m.: A previous version of this article stated that Fuimaono was born in American Samoa. That is incorrect. He was born in Washington. BearTerritory regrets the error.

Update 7:52 p.m.: Added quote from Cal head coach Justin Wilcox, per a release.


Scout Top Stories