SoCal LB Has U-M in Final Group

The talent in Southern California is not as rich as it has been of late. One player that is getting a lot of attention, though, is linebacker <b>Luke Laolagi</b> from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys. GoBlueWolverine Magazine spoke with Patriots head coach Ed Croson about his star defensive player.

"He's basically told the schools he's not interested in not to bother," Ed Croson, head football coach at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Calif. said of linebacker Luke Laolagi. "It's not that he's arrogant, he just knows the schools he likes and doesn't want to waste anyone's time. He's been getting so much mail and so much attention and he doesn't really like it, he's a quiet kid. The schools he is interested in are UCLA, USC, Florida, Michigan, Miami and Notre Dame."

All of the visitors to Birmingham so far during the spring evaluation period have been in the west. "Fresno State, Boise State, and all the Pac-10 teams have been by," Croson said. "He's been getting a lot of mail from Michigan and Notre Dame so I know they'll be by. He doesn't have any offers yet that I know of." Croson added that Loalagi will attend the USC and UCLA camps. "He does want to take his official visits to the schools on his list," he said.

With the resurgence of USC it will be even more difficult to lure kids away from the region, and Laolagi is no exception. "Right now with all the kids in Southern Califronia, if they had the choice they'd go to USC," Croson said. "I think if they offered he probably would commit. Right now they're the hot team and he's spent a lot of time there and they're real nice to him. They've also been after him since his sophomore year."

Laolai has been on he varsity team since his freshman year and has started since he was a sophomore. He was the only sophomore to be awarded All-City honors in 2002. "He has a lot of 'All this', and 'All that' honors," Croson said. "I know he's highly regarded around here, most people think he's one of the top two linebackers in Southern California."

Not only does Laolagi excel on the gridiron, he was also a star on the Patriot baseball team, starting at second base his freshman and sophomore years. He also ran the 100 meter event and participated in the shot-put for the track and field team. This year he has opted to spend his time in the weight room and the results speak for themselves. "He took his clean from about 175-180 to 240," Croson said. "He's responded real well to training. Today he put up 140 on the snatch, which is pretty good."

The 6 foot 1, 205 pound Laolagi has already attended the USC one-day camp and is planning on being at the Stanford Nike Camp in two weeks. Croson describes Laolagi as a great leader with good character. As a player, "He's fast, he's run a 4.72 40 this spring and he is so good at reading schemes and reacting. He takes good angles so he gets good hits and he breaks on the ball real well in zone coverage." Croson said. "He's fast enough to play outside but he'll need to gain some weight to play inside. He's also a great receiver, a one-handed catch type of guy."

Birmingham plays in one of the toughest leagues in the LA Section and made it to the finals last seaon before bowing to Narbonne, 27-20. Birmingham was two-time defending champ. Croson said that while he doesn't like his players going both ways, Laolagi will play some offense this year. "He's too good to keep off the field so we'll be using him as a light tight end," he said. "Heck, we'll probably use him as a heavy tight end at time too. We play against Notre Dame, Hart, Valencia and Dorsey and it's a punishing league. Four of those teams will be ranked in the top 25 in the state this year."

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