'The Natural' gives OSU visit high marks

FIJI NATIVE VAUGHN LESUMA is hard to miss, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 340 pounds. The hoss out of Mt. San Jacinto College was at OSU this past weekend along with at least two other Beaver targets on official visits. Lesuma is a natural, having likely just scratched the surface -- he had never played the game until two years ago, first getting into a three point stance in junior college.

Lesuma said the OSU visit couldn't have gone much better, with his questions on school and program answered, many through observation. Lesuma said the Beavs lead but that's also primarily due to OSU being the only school he's been able to visit and is the program he's been able to most evaluate. Future trips will almost certainly have to come after the season with the next stretch of Saturdays all game days at Mt. San Jacinto, located equidistant between L.A. and San Diego.

"It went very well, I enjoyed it very much," said Lesuma. "I was raised in a lot of small towns. I went to Corvallis and it was another small town -- I totally felt at home. Everyone is family oriented which is a huge thing for me. I told the coach it's everything that I need, as a student and as a player, it's here."

Still, Lesuma said he isn't close to making a decision, wanting to look at the benefits of other programs, and hopefully take some more post-season official visits to ensure he's making an informed choice.

Lesuma holds offers from Oregon State and New Mexico State, but a number of other programs are showing him significant attention, including Washington State, Arizona State, Florida, BYU, UCLA, Nevada and Wyoming. Schools are split on whether they see him as guard or tackle.

Lesuma said schools have told him their interest is based mostly on two things. First is his athleticism, how well he moves for his size. Then, there's his potential -- Lesuma never played the game in high school, first buckling on a chinstrap in junior college.

WASHINGTON STATE was the opponent last weekend in Corvallis and the Cougs are one of the schools holding intrigue for Lesuma.

"I would be excited to take a trip up there," said Lesuma.

Lesuma said he most recently talked to WSU offensive line coach George Yarno last week, and the Mt. San Jacinto coaching staff has told him Cougar head man Bill Doba has called asking about Lesuma.

"He's a great man," said Lesuma of Yarno.

Thoughtful and mature, Lesuma didn't offer one of the answers usually heard when asked for some of the OSU visit highlights.

"What I saw of them as a team," said Lesuma. "My decision of where I want to be will (be based) on academics... and if the place will help me become a better man, a better person, in addition to football. I really liked what I saw there. They unfortunately lost but they didn't throw in the towel as some people might have believed they would. And that's how I see myself, as someone who won't give up."

IF NOT FOR his uncle here in the States, Elliot Lobendahn, and the support of his family in Hawaii, Lesuma said he wouldn't be where he is today, on the cusp of a full ride scholarship and big time college football. An excellent student, Lesuma is on pace to receive his AA degree in December and eligible for a mid-year transfer and a school's spring ball. He has two-to-play-two at the next level.

"Wherever I go, it's not just going to be about football for me -- no schools are ruled out," said Lesuma. "Where I go will be about where I can become a better person. Football is what I do, it's not who I am. And when I do something, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. These are exciting times."

Vaughn Lesuma profile

  • Lesuma said also on official visits to Oregon State with him this weekend were Una Smiley and Jon Ioane. Lesuma said as far he knew, neither made a verbal commitment while in Corvallis. BeaverFootball.com is continuing attempts to reach both players for their take on their official trips to Oregon State.

  • Keep an eye out for Vaughn's brother and teammate at Mt. San Jacinto, Reed Lesuma. At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, the o-lineman is already drawing interest from schools for the class of 2008.

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