It was a little surprising when four-star ranking offensive tackle Henry Bainivalu of Sammamish (Skyline), Wash., showed up with his father for the Oklahoma State Cowboys spring game weekend back in April. The 6-6, 295-pound prospect has a load of offers including Washington, Michigan, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon State, Nebraska, USC, Washington State, and Colorado.
But Bainivalu wanted to check out Oklahoma State and now this heartening news for head coach Mike Gundy, his staff and Oklahoma State fans is that Bainivalu is hoping to head back to Stillwater, this time with his mother to check out the Cowboys again.
"It was fun," Bainivalu said of his earlier visit. "The day before we got to visit all the facilities and the campus and I liked everything I saw. Now I want to try to get back with my mom. I loved the campus and the people. It wasn't the same as it was at some other schools. The coaches made me feel good. I think coach (Mike) Gundy and coach (Greg) Adkins are really good people."
Now Bainivalu is very much about family, close to his parents and siblings, but he said that he has covered the subject of distance with his mom and dad and that they are in agreement.
"We've talked about it and I understand the subject of distance," Bainivalu said. "My parents, they agree with me that if it is the right school then the distance doesn't matter. You will deal with that in order to go to the right school."
Bainivalu has been identified as a stellar offensive tackle prospect dating back to his freshman year in high school. On video, he shows good feet ant the ability to lock on to a defender and the strength in his arms and his extension to stay locked up on that defender and really control him. He is fun to watch as his fundamentals are very solid.
Another reason Oklahoma State may really appeal to Bainivalu is that Oklahoma State and Gundy have made it a priority to recruit players of Polynesian culture and make them comfortable within the program. Bainivalu said he understands that and that it is important to know that Gundy and the OSU program have interest in having players from that background and appreciate them.
He likes Beni Tonga, a part of the Oklahoma State support staff, and he likes that the players in the program are comfortable.
"That is why I want to try to get out there again," Bainivalu added. "They are great people and I really like all of them."
Bainivalu said his classes at Skyline don't conclude until June 17, typical of schools in the west. His hope is to work out this summer, make some more unofficial visits and set the stage for his recruiting.
"I want to get those unofficial visits out of the way this summer and get reassurance," he said. "Then I will take my official visits in my senior season before I make a decision."
Bainivalu is a lot of fun to talk with as he is very smart, shows a great personality, and you can tell is very excited about the process. He also added that while earlier he thought he might want to major in sports science and look toward physical therapy as a career, he is now looking as majoring in business and pre-law.