Falling Star

<P>Four months ago, Mira Costa (Calif.) standout Mataele Pau&#146;u was a big-time football prospect with several scholarship offers. Penn State was among the schools in pursuit. Two weeks before signing day, Pau&#146;u&#146;s life has changed dramatically. Scout.com caught up the Tongan teenager recently to find out what is going on in his life.

Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa defensive tackle Mataele Pau’u, 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds, was on top of the world four months ago. Pau’u had offers from Arizona, Penn State, BYU, Utah and others. Pau’u admittedly got wrapped up in the hoopla and it cost him in more ways then one.

“One day in school this kid was beating on one of my friends, I came to help him,” Pau’u said. “Another kid hit me with a skateboard, and they charged me with battery for punching him. I was expelled from school in the middle of the football season.”

College coaches who had been calling and planning on coming to Mira Costa to see him play stopped.

“Most did not even listen to the story, they just said they were moving in another direction,” Pau’u said.

That is when everything fell apart for Pau’u. Without football he began to care less about school. All of his scholarship offers were pulled. His parents made him transfer to California High in Northern California, about five hours from Mira Costa.

“I was hanging with the wrong crowd,” Pau’u said. “I guess I thought I was untouchable because I had all these scholarship offers.”

Pau’u scored 760 on the SATs; He is likely to attend a junior college. College is at least two years away as Pau’u and his family are devout Mormons and he will do a two-year Mormon mission.

“I think the mission will be good for me, and help me mature as a man,” Pau’u said. “San Jose State said they will take me, when I come back.”

Pau’u, whose family is from the Island of Tonga, only started playing football in the ninth grade. During his sophomore and junior seasons he was an All-State selection.

“I was always too big to play ball when I was younger,” Pau’u said.

Hopefully, Pau’u will get his life straightened out, and eventually find his way into college and onto the gridiron.

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