'The fans are why I committed'
And so Jimmy Niutapuai, (pronounced: new-top-a-wa-he) became the latest Wildcat commit on Sunday evening when he sat down with Coach Bill Snyder to let him know he wanted to play his ball at K-State. Originally from Huntington Beach California, Jimmy is the starting fullback for Orange County College (California). And to think, the Wildcat coaching staff really did not even know who Jimmy Niutapuai was until a couple of months ago.
Looking at film on another player from the West Coast that the Wildcats were interested in, Coach Miller and the Wildcat Coaching staff were shocked at the 6-foot-1 and 260 pound blocking fullback that kept "blowing people up".
"I gotta tell you how I became a Wildcat--it was really weird. Coach Miller gave me a call once during the season a couple of months ago. And man it was late, it was like 12:30 at night and I started tripping out. Yea I was tripping to be honest and at first I thought it was a joke. But we started talking and then he gave me a call again after that so I knew he was for real. He (Coach Miller) asked if I was interested in taking a trip out to Manhattan and it just kinda went from there."
And for Niutapuai's playing style, we had a chance to speak with his current college coach, Mike Taylor.
"I can tell you this and it is not an overstatement- Jimmy is the most feared kid on the West Coast. Kansas State really got a good one and I am going to miss him. This is a guy that just blows people up. But this is the West Coast. We throw the ball around here and fullbacks are not really part of a lot of the offenses you see out here. Jimmy is a blocking Fullback all the way and he does just a great job. Everyone knows you are going to get hit when you play against Jimmy and he gets this crazed look in his eye right before going out there and putting people down" said Orange County College Head Coach Mike Taylor.
And the Wildcats will utilize those skills in bringing him to Manhattan.
"K-State runs a two back set with the fullback taking leads and opening holes and Jimmy will fit very well with that offense. And trust me, he will open holes. He is just a very physically dominant player and will come up and hit people in the mouth" said Taylor.
Fan support is one of the main reasons Niutapuai chose Kansas State over an offer from Illinois and interest from other Big 10 Programs.
"I really appreciate how they respect football and it is appreciated out there. I saw fans tailgating and cheering and I know that they are not going to go to a bowl this year and the fans were still cheering. That really touched me. I saw people tailgating and having a good time and enjoying themselves. Man, they have great fans that are really supportive and rabid."
However, it was Coach Snyder that sealed the deal for the Wildcats.
"Talking to Coach Snyder really did it for me. He is just so real. When I spoke to him he just really broke it down for me and how important school and academics are as well as the football. Man, his presence is really something that gets to you. The way he carries himself and talks to you, he has a very strong presence and he is just so real and down to earth and I felt like he was breaking it all down for me. Talking with Coach Snyder really did it I guess."
At roughly 260 pounds, Jimmy says he may not be done growing and is looking forward to getting to Manhattan and playing.
"I'm about 260 pounds right now (he says this chuckling) and 6-foot-1 is about right for me height. Coach Miller has told me they are going to let me carry the ball a little in their offense but mainly I just really like to block and knock people back. I am not really that concerned with getting carries I just want to go out there and help win games and block for whoever they put behind me."
As for additional trips, Jimmy says he is done with recruiting.
"I am not taking any other trips. I told Coach Snyder I wanted to come there and I really have no other plans to go anywhere but Kansas State. They are not going to have to worry about me at all- I'm coming down."
Niutapuai's commitment may not be the only good news from this weekend's list of visitors. Although Niutapuai was the only visitor to give his pledge to play for the Cats over the weekend- he says that friendships were formed and that other pledges may be soon to follow.
"I was the only one that committed this weekend but I know that Bobby Jones and Marcus Raines became pretty tight this weekend and that they were talking about possibly playing together. I know they will be talking together and that they really enjoyed themselves too. We all were really liking what we saw and the trip."
Niutapuai is the eleventh commitment for the Wildcat Class this season.
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