With Cottonwood High's season opener this Friday, Stanley Havili has temporarily laid aside his college plans and is focused solely on the upcoming season. He is entering his senior campaign in peak form, as he recently showed at a speed camp.
"I ran a 4.49 on the track. That's my fastest [40 yard dash time]," said Havili on Tuesday. "I've been working on my false step, endurance and stuff."
Havili's only official visit thus far is an October 22nd trip to Iowa City to watch Iowa play Michigan, but he probably will not be setting up any more visits during the season. "Right now I'm just focused on the season," said Havili. "I think I'm going to finish my trips after the season, but I want to give my undivided attention to my team. I owe it to them. I want to get that ring."
While official visits will have to wait until after the season, Havili has had time to think about what type of school he is interested in and what kind of factors he will be looking for come signing day, particularly the running back situation. Does he feel better about going to a place like Boise State and getting a chance to play early, or would he rather fight for playing time in a crowded backfield?
"I want the challenge [of having to compete for playing time]," said Havili with confidence. "It can only make me better; and the possibility of going to a backfield that's deep is a chance that I might have to take. The teams that I'm looking at right now, I know that I'm the top running back prospect that they're recruiting. The other running backs that they are recruiting, I give them a look, I do my research; but it's not going to intimidate me. With me I'm ready to compete. I think wherever I go I'll have a chance to compete."
Havili has also previously expressed his desire to go to a school with a good reputation. What role has his religious upbringing played in his character and what standards he sets for himself and his future school?
"My standards are obviously raised," said Havili. "I think it [the Mormon faith] has made me more wise in the decisions that I've made. The friends that I've had and the decisions that they've made, not being molded into the faith that I've had [have been questionable]. I have a lot of friends that have lost their lives with bad decisions. Just the religion itself makes me want to be closer with my family, and not to be too…words can't explain it, I guess."
That family aspect is something that Havili considers to be very important in his life. So much so that he centers his life outside of football around them.
"I grew up very family oriented. So when I'm not in football I'm at home with my family. And spending time with my older siblings' kids, and I just love my little nephews and nieces. So during my off-time I'm always with my family."
Iowa fans are certainly aware of the relationship between Havili and his older cousin, Tony Moeaki, who committed to the Hawkeyes last year. While they have not had the opportunity to play together competitively, having grown up so far away, it has been something that both of them have been discussing.
"We've always lived at a distance. He has always lived down there (Wheaton, Ill.) as long as I can remember. When we were little kids we'd always play football at the family reunions. [Now we] just play with our nieces and nephews. We just played little games with them. I talk to him on a regular basis, maybe once or twice a week."
While college football fans across the nation are well-acquainted with both Havili and his older cousin, the pair is very grounded by the fact that when they're around family, they're just Stanley and Tony, and that seems to be okay with them.
"Growing up, when I was a sophomore I was looking on the internet and I see Tony's name and I thought ‘are you sure?' Next time Tony came down, me and him were talking about it," said Havili with a laugh. "Tony doesn't even tell any of us. So none of us new that Tony was [highly recruited] except his family in the area that he was in, that he was a star. You guys probably knew before us, because we didn't really know! And still, my aunts and uncles, the older people in my [extended] family don't really know what football is. So it's not really big in our family. When we're around the family nothing is about football, it's all about family."
While not all of Havili's extended family understands his popularity, his immediate family is well-acquainted with the spotlight.
"I have three older brothers. They all played (college football), and my sisters actually play too. When I was around 5 years old…as long as I can remember, actually, my brothers used to play Pop Warner football down here. And I grew to love football from then on. Then I started playing padded football when I was 8 years old."
Havili's Division I-A family ties do not end with Tony Moeaki, though; as he has a younger cousin close to home who is being courted by several Division I-A schools.
"My little cousin (Simi Fili) is coming up right now, he's going to be a junior," said Havili. "He already has verbal (offers) from BYU, Utah and Arizona. Me and him go to the same school. He plays defensive tackle. He's my first cousin on my other side, like me and Tony but on the other side. He's a legit prospect. We are considering going to the same college so that I can look after him and he can look after me."
So does Havili think Iowa has a legitimate shot at a Rose Bowl birth this year, or at least compete for a Big Ten championship?
"Actually I do," said Havili, changing to a serious tone. "I think they should end up one of the better teams in the nation. Drew Tate is a great quarterback, just with all those injuries at running back, I think they could have really been better last year had it not been for those injuries that occurred. I think they are going to be the best in the Big Ten."
Havili has also enjoyed talking with some of the Iowa coaches. Not just about football, but about life in general.
"Me and Lester Erb converse a lot, probably every two to three weeks I give him a call. We branch out into school, and talk about Tony a lot and how he's doing out there. And I've talked to Kirk Ferentz quite a few times. He's a great guy…he's a legend."
After talking with Havili it is clear that wherever he chooses to attend school, they will not only be getting a great football player but a quality human being as well.
(Micah Hershberger will be providing some recruiting updates for HawkeyeNation.com over the course of the next several months, in addition to recruiting contributions from other staff members; some old and some new. As has always been the case with HawkeyeNation.com, we hope to tell you stories as opposed to solely focusing on height, weight, speed and favorites, and we certainly welcome such contributions from Hershberger. Welcome to the Nation!)