The versatile prospect committed to NU on Friday morning, becoming the team's second December pledge — leaving one scholarship remaining for the 2014 recruiting class.
"I heard that they offered one scholarship to three people, and that it was first come, first serve," Anoa'i said. And needless to say, he considered this the perfect option.
We might never know the exact dynamic of the situation – or the other candidates for the scholarship – but the Wildcats staff certainly leveraged him into becoming the 14th member of a strong group.
Despite playing multiple positions in high school, Anoa'i said he was recruited to play linebacker. The initial priority to earn this spot was Lawrence Central HS (Ind.) talent Brandon Lee. He eventually went to Missouri, leaving the Wildcats in strange recruiting limbo.
They added transfer Miles Shuler, and then kept Venric Mark because of his medical redshirt. With two scholarships remaining, then, they were focused on Garrett Dickerson and Parrker Westphal, the latter of whom is likely to choose between NU and Vanderbilt very soon.
But with C.J. Bryant choosing to graduate after his fourth year – rather than opting to return – another scholarship reopened. Alabama defensive back Khari Blasingame chose Minnesota over NU, forcing Pat Fitzgerald to sift through his remaining options. They settled on Anoa'i.
"Basically, this was my best offer," he said. "I know that it's ranked top-10 in the country in academics and it's a Big Ten school."
He also spoke of the team's future promise, and of his fit at linebacker. NU has a solid history of recruiting "sleeper guys," and the list even includes Damien Proby. With Chi Chi Ariguzo and Collin Ellis graduating after next season, the Wildcats desperately needed to restock. And here they are.
"I want to make a name for myself," Anoa'i said. "And I want to make my family proud."
The latter, I'm sure he's done. The former, he'll start working on when he arrives in Evanston.