Moana Ofahengaue (OH-FAW-HEN-GOW-EE) fancies himself the analytical sort. A GPA in the high threes speaks to that. But he also likes the notion that you can be the same person, but different, depending on where you are.
Just watch Pittsburgh secondary superstar, Troy Polamalu.
One second you are laughing at his hair commercials, his seemingly benign-almost timid persona off the field. And then you watch him on the field. The difference between the two is dramatic. And it doesn't go unnoticed by Moana. "I'm trying to be like that, you know, nice off the field but on it, really intense," he said. "The intensity part is easy though."
At 6-4 and 200 lbs., Scout.com lists Moana as a linebacker. But the recruiting he's been getting, which now finds itself at close to 20 teams having offered, has been mostly for defensive end. A 200 lbs. defensive end? Really?
No, not really.
"That's one of the things the coaches say to me - that I am going to have to get a lot bigger. But they like what I can do," he said. "And at that size he is now, you can imagine what he can do plenty well right now. 55 tackles on the season, but over a fourth of them were behind the line of scrimmage, and on a certain player. 16 sacks in all, which means he spent almost as much time in the backfield as the quarterback himself.
The list of offers has gotten to the point where you kind of throw your arms up and just wait for it to be over. But Ofahengaue is trying to be a little more proactive in his approach. He knows a lot about the in-state schools; BYU, Utah State and Utah. But he's becoming more familiar with everyone else, especially those who have said he's going to be getting a written offer. Some of the ones he's been looking at film on, and yes, I mean he's watching some games, are Nebraska, South Carolina and Florida State. That's three teams among a load now, which will probably get to be a lot more.
Kind of funny when you hear Moana talk about being recruited to play a position he'll have to grow into. Because when he was a freshman, he wasn't sure what he was going to do. "I wasn't great at any position. I really wasn't. I would just play and do whatever they wanted me to do," he said. "As I got older, I was getting more comfortable, but I knew I wanted to be on the defensive side of the ball."
Being from Utah and having all the in-state schools offered already, popular opinion is that outside of the really big dogs, most teams would probably be wasting their time. Then there is the fact that Moana is LDS, and while he is planning to take his mission following high school, which will last two years, he hasn't made up his mind on that as of yet. So, the odds seem to get even slimmer for the other schools, many of which don't have the reputation of schools like BYU for dealing with that scenario very often, which is why it isn't uncommon to see a senior class of Cougars full of players in their mid-20s with a good chunk of them already married.
But that's for another time.
One thing that Moana knows for sure, though, is that distance isn't an issue, and when it comes to weather, this is a young man after my own heart. "Weather doesn't matter. Football is football. I'll play in whatever," he said with a laugh. "We play in the heat here, in the snow, the cold - everything. That's the way football is supposed to be played."
When it comes to isolating teams, in this case Nebraska, Moana admits that he doesn't really know a lot about the Big Red. "I'm starting to watch stuff on them, and I have been thinking about maybe taking a trip out there or something. I don't know on that right now though," he said. "I'm just trying to look at everyone, and I know Nebraska is known for defense."
Camps, junior days or unofficial visits are also completely up in the air right now for the standout DE. With his offer list almost doubling in the span of a month, you can figure that he'll probably have a lot more schools to look at down the line. And he'll get to them, when he has a chance. "I'm open to everyone, I know that. I am looking at every team that is looking at me," he said. "I definitely don't have any favorites. I'm just looking at the school, how many football players they graduate, what their coaches are like and all that. But other than that, I'm looking at everything."