Isaac Slade-Matautia is well versed in the recruiting process given that his older brother, Austin, played college football, so the weeks leading up to National Signing Day should be much easier to navigate.
The four-star outside linebacker from Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis officially visited Nebraska last weekend, and told Scout.com the trip opened his eyes and exceeded his expectations.
“My brother being with coach (Mark) Banker a little bit at Oregon State, he knows what the Nebraska coaches bring to the table," Slade-Matautia said. "He's told me they are great coaches and he knows he wouldn’t have to worry about me going there. They would have everything set for me.
"It's hard to pick a favorite part of the visit because I liked everything. I’d have to say the coaching staff was a highlight, though, because they are very friendly. One of the coaches actually is an alum of my high school, so it’s great to have a person that comes from Hawaii that I could go to for help if I went there. I also learned a lot about the other coaches. They are a family-oriented program. It’s a perfect place I could see myself at, but I’ll still take my other officials and commit from there."
Earlier in the recruiting process, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker had intentions to stay closer to home by playing on the West Coast. And, although that is still a possibility, Nebraska affected his outlook on things.
"At first, I wanted somewhere closer to home," Slade-Matautia said. "But after visiting Nebraska, the distance doesn't factor into it for me anymore. It's just a great school, a great program with great coaches and great players, so the thing I look for now is which school makes me feel like I’m at home. Nebraska did a great job of doing that. I could definitely see myself farther away."
After the dead period, Slade-Matautia is scheduled to visit Colorado and Washington State, and could also make a stop at Arizona State. The Buffaloes lost their defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to Oregon on Wednesday, but Slade-Matautia said that would not have any effect on the way he views the program.
"My mother loves the coaching staff over there, especially coach Leavitt who was coaching the linebackers," Slade-Matautia said. "They did very well this season and are an up-and-coming program, so it's definitely one of the top schools I’m still looking at. We’ll see what happens with the coaches later on."
At Washington State, it's been Joe Salave'a leading the charge and Slade-Matautia said he has felt a connection from the moment the Cougars began recruiting him.
"He’s actually been a big part of my recruitment," Slade-Matautia said of Salave'a. "He knows what it’s like to come from Hawaii. He told me to go where my heart takes me and he’s a firm believer that I could choose the right college. Washington State has been a top school for me, so I can’t wait to get out there for my visit."
Arizona State is the school Slade-Matautia has been to before but he said that prior trip only piqued his interest in the Sun Devils as well as the surrounding area.
"Coach (Joe) Seumalo has been in contact with me for a while," Slade-Matautia said. "I took an unofficial visit there before and I liked the environment. The coaching staff was great to be around and it's just another school I could rely on the coaches and players if I ever needed help while being away from home. I haven't set anything up, but hopefully I can take a visit and soak in more information, ask them where I would be playing and all that."
Slade-Matautia said he is undergoing shoulder surgery Friday to repair a torn labrum that he suffered at the end of his season. He intends to announce his college decision on National Signing Day.