It’s been less than a month since Oregon announced that former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke would be taking over as defensive coordinator for the 2016 season. The veteran coach had a short timeframe to attempt to tie a bow around the Ducks 2016 recruiting class before National Signing Day last week, but with a clean slate now that the 2017 cycle is in full swing, he wasted little time in offering Berrien Springs (Mich.) offensive/defensive lineman Phil Paea on Thursday night.
“I was just really shocked because it really just came out of nowhere,” Paea said. “They haven’t really said much to me. All I know is that my coach reached out to a recruiter and he said he really enjoyed my film.”
Paea received the offer while en route to Michigan State for a visit. That visit resulted in an additional offer from the Spartans. The 6-foot-4, 282-pound prospect said he hasn’t spoken much with Hoke about where he sees him specifically fitting into the Ducks new 4-3 defensive scheme, but given that he’s currently a defensive end at the high school level, he believes that’s where he’ll end up.
One thing that is for certain: Paea indicated that he is strongly interested.
“I’ve always dreamt of playing at Oregon,” he said. “That’s like my dream school right there.”
Paea broke down why a kid from a state with a deep football tradition became attached to a program on the other side of the country.
“Just growing up I’ve always enjoyed watching Oregon,” he said. “Everyone always had their favorite college team and I just love the way that Oregon carries themselves and just the program they have out there is amazing.”
Although he was born and bred in Michigan, Paea has a strong connection to the West Coast through his extended family that resides there. Hoke also brought up the possibility of playing with other Polynesian players which is another factor that stands out about Oregon. Paea has been invited to attend spring practices in April and intends on making the trip.
“When I come out there this April, hopefully, I’ll be able to see what kind of environment they have there and I’m definitely going to ask some academic questions of like what they expect and what I expect,” he said.
In addition to Oregon and Michigan State, Paea has a nice list of schools that he’s looking forward to getting to know better including Michigan, Stanford, BYU, Virginia, USC and Arizona State. He’ll visit Central Michigan on Saturday. With so much to possibly see he’s taking his time and seeing what in store for the future.
“I want to explore my options,” he said.