Tevaka Tuioti, a 6-foot-2 and 195-pound athlete of La Mirada (Calif.) was high on Hawaii's recruiting priority list this past week. Tuioti was one of Hawaii’s official visitors this past weekend. When he got on the plane to head home, he was surprised to see who he was sitting next to.
“I didn’t really think (the coaches) were going to come to my house right after the trip,” Tuioti said. “I was actually sitting next to them on the flight home. I was nervous, but when they came in it was like a regular meeting. My parents really loved coach Rolovich and his honesty with everything he said. I felt like they really showed me a lot of love.”
The in-home experience came just days after he was wowed on the islands. The trip included canoeing, surfing, a tour of Aloha Stadium and a lot of good food.
“It was amazing,” Tuioti said. “They treated us like we were their sons. We weren’t just any regular players. They weren’t pressuring us at all. It felt like home when I was there. I really love the coaching staff. They are all funny, it felt like they were my dad away from home. It was my first time going there. They have incredible food, incredible views and there is really nice, humble people there.”
Tuioti is one of the most versatile athletes available on the West Coast and he could end up playing a variety of positions. The top schools he is considering include Hawaii, Wyoming and New Mexico and each school sees him at multiple positions.
Hawaii’s coaching staff sees him as a quarterback first and then try him in the defensive secondary. Wyoming likes him at safety and could also work him in as a quarterback. New Mexico is recruiting him as a QB, but would also like him to come in right away as a returner.
“I’ve told all the coaches that I’m just a football player and I’ll play any position,” Tuioti said. “Wherever they need me, they can put me. I just want to contribute to the team and hopefully win a championship with that team.”
On his official visit to Hawaii, he got to hear more from new offensive coordinator Zak Hill on what they have planned for the offense and how his skillset could complement it.
“What he brought over was the spread offense,” Tuioti said. “They only have one back in the backfield. It’s different concepts. He likes the passing game, which I liked about it. It fits me because they run the option too. I feel real close with coach Brian Smith and coach Rolovich. From spending time with them on the visit, I feel like the bond is really strong in just the three days I spent with them. I felt like it’s a good fit, but we’ll see.”
Though he enjoyed his time in Hawaii and with the staff, he will take his remaining two visits, first to Wyoming and then to New Mexico.
“I’ve seen the type of offense (New Mexico) runs and it fits me well too,” Tuioti said. “Wyoming, it doesn’t matter to me I can adapt. We ran some pro style at my high school because we have an amazing running back. I believe I can adjust to it… I like to be in the option in a spread offense. I feel there are more options to confuse the defense. You can pass, you can run. It’s based off coverages they run and it’s easier.”