California DT Boe Tufele: Illini offer 'biggest one I got'

Los Angeles-area defensive tackle Boe Tufele discusses Illini offer, recruiting plans

Boe Tufele was in a stupor when his coach told him the news. The Harbor City (Calif.) Nathaniel Narbonne defensive tackle just couldn't comprehend a Big Ten scholarship offer.

"Really at first I didn’t know that Illinois was interested in me," Tufele told "But I just remember one day (in late June), I was sleeping and then my coach called me and woke me up and told me Illinois had offered me. I was just shocked really. He just kept telling me to hurry up and call coach (Illinois defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson) and thank him and get to know him. When I called him, coach (Nickerson) was just telling me Illinois liked me. He said I was a great fit for the team. He cant wait to talk to me more and see me in person."

Nickerson, a Compton native and University of California legend, wants to create a Cali pipeline for Illinois. Tufele, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound three-star defensive tackle, could be a solid start.

Illinois currently is Tufele's only power-five offer. He also holds offers from Northern Colorado, North Carolina Central, Coastal Carolina and Dixie State. The Illini have shown that they are confident in their own evaluations and aren't afraid to be the first power-five to offer prospects. They were the first power-five to offer in-state quarterback Cam Thomas and in-state linebacker Marc Mondesir -- who both committed to Illinois shortly after they received offers. Tufele is a strong, physical interior lineman with good handwork. He suffered a torn ACL as a sophomore and lost some speed but he had 79 tackles and 12.0 tackles for loss as a junior to help lead Narbonne to a state title. Tufele, a strong student, isn't focused too much on the recruiting process. He said Nickerson messages with him every week but that he hasn't set up a date yet to visit Illinois.

"I haven’t set up any visits or made any plans," Tufele said. "I’m just working out and practicing. To be honest, I’m not sure what I want to do when I get to college, what I want to major in. My father was saying I should engineering."

One thing that won't negatively affect Tufele's recruitment: distance from home.

"I'm trying to get as far away as I can, honestly," Tufele said. "I just want to immerse myself in the full college experience."

While Tufele isn't near a closing to his recruitment, he said if he made a decision right now, it'd be an easy one

"I think that out of all the schools that have offered me, this (Illinois) would be my best choice," Tufele said. "I think it’s the biggest one I got so far. If I were to chose, I would choose Illinois."

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