San Antonio, Tex. -- The last year has been a bit of a football dream for Chuck Filiaga. The Aledo (Tex.) offensive lineman hit the ground running in his new state (he moved from California) with a new team and helped power it to a state championship.
"We had a lot of pressure because we’ve had these camera people following us around… ‘Title Town Texas’… and following us (to document the run to) make their seventh championship,” Filiaga said. “So, we definitely had a lot of pressure from our community and fans. And if we didn’t make it we would’ve been a disgrace. (Laughter). But thank God we went undefeated and won it all.”
Now the four-star lineman is tackling another challenge… the U.S. Army All American game. Minutes into first day of practice he realized the competition is much stiffer, but he is embracing it as an opportunity to hone his craft.
“It has been really great,” Filiaga said. “Getting back together with all these guys... great athletes… it has been an amazing time.”
Off the field over the next few days some of Filiaga’s attention will be focused on his recruitment. He will announce his collegiate choice from his three finalists (Michigan, Oklahoma, and Nebraska) during Saturday’s game. That begs the question, has he already made up his mind?
“I think I have,” Filiaga admitted. “I’m going to sit on pray on it and just let the man above answer it for me.”
That leaves a little wiggle room for him to compare a trio of suitors that each made strong impressions during official visits.
“Nebraska, (it was) the atmosphere there,” said Filiaga. “I hung out with the players and everybody. They all talked about the experience there, why they chose it, and how they loved it there. And definitely they think it’s the place for me as well. And (also) the coaches.”
“Oklahoma… Shoot… I loved the campus the first time I stepped on it just because it was an open campus and a lot of space. It was built into the community as well. And (also) the coaching staff.
“The Wolverines… that stadium (laughter). That got me. But it would be Coach Harbaugh and Coach Drevno the O-line coach. They made me feel like one of the players. They were just themselves.”
One of the unique traits in Filiaga’s Michigan recruitment is the lead role that Jim Harbaugh has taken. It has allowed the talented youngster to get a much better feel for his would-be head coach.
“I talk regularly to Harbaugh himself, and (Tim) Drevno, but Harbaugh mostly,” Filiaga reported.
“He is still same guy even in front of cameras (that he is behind them). In my in-home visit he came down and he was a goofball, he was talkative, and he was fired up about football. That’s all he can ever talk about.”
He chats with Drevno about football too, but their conversations have also shifted to their commonality away from the gridiron.
“Coach Drevno is a mellow chill dude,” Filiaga said. “He loves reggae and he loves his Poly dudes, so that’s kind of a plus for me.”
One perceived negative for the Wolverines is the departure of former recruiting coordinator Tony Tuioti. The orchestrator of Michigan’s “Poly Pipeline” initiative played a very active role in Filiaga’s Maize &Blue courtship. His loss, however, appears to be only a minor blow to Michigan’s chances.
“Coach T… man he is a character,” said Filiaga. “He is my dude, but with him leaving, no that’s not a factor. I’m proud of him. I know he wants to coach and be on the field and do what he wants to do and follow his heart, and I honestly respect that. You’ve got to live your dreams, and that what he is doing.”
That’s also what Filiaga hopes to do on the collegiate front. The final decision on his destination will come down to which school best meets a few key criteria.
“A big factor is somewhere I could build a strong relationship with the coaching staff,” Filiaga said. “Connections afterwards… after football is over… as well as helping me build the relationship with others for the 40-year plan instead of the 4-year plan so that when football is all done and said for and I hang up the pads that I will something else to turn to (in order to) support the family.”
And distance will not be a limiting factor in the final analysis.
“Mom and dad… family really… they don’t mind where I go to college,” said Filiaga. “They’ll still support me. I know it’s a huge factor for us. They want to come out to all my games and support me, but really mom and all them they, say whatever best fits you, you go and we’ll support 110% of the way.”
Stay tuned to The Michigan Insider for more on Filiaga in the hours and days to come.