Californian to Visit Penn State?

California defensive tackle <b>Matt Malele</b> has just recently begun to list the Nittany Lions. When did they offer? Will he visit? And does a team from the east coast have a legitimate shot at a west coast kid?

Name: Matt Malele
Position: DT
Height: 6'1.5"
Weight: 310 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.9
School: Carson, Ca. (Carson HS)

Many pundits of Penn State's program have said that the Nittany Lions cannot go into Texas, Florida, or California to sign those states' Blue Chip football players.  This year, however, Penn State has identified a number of targets in the "Big 3" states and remains active in recruiting them to become Nittany Lions.

Big Samoan defensive tackle Matt Malele (pronounced Ma-Leh-Leh) hails from Carson, Ca.  This season, he helped Carson HS to an 8-3 record before they were knocked out of the California State playoffs.  His stats included 74 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 hurries.  

Just recently, Matt has begun to mention the Nittany Lions as one of a number of schools that could potentially receive one of his official visits.  Now, mainly because of the excellent recruiting job of defensive line coach, Larry Johnson, the Nittany Lions will receive a definite official visit from Matt on January 17th.  What has gotten him so interested about a program on the other side of the country?

"I like their tradition and their program.  They have a lot of guys that came out of there into the NFL and Coach Johnson is a good coach.  They have a lot of interest.  They want to get me out there and see what the school is like.  Once I visit there I'll have a better feel for what it's like.""

Coach Johnson traveled to California two weeks ago to visit with Matt in his home and sew up a date for him to come to Happy Valley.  The Nittany Lion coaching staff offered Matt nearly two months ago, apparently hearing about the big d-tackle through word of mouth because Matt did not send any of his tapes to Penn State.

Although Matt described himself as a "warm weather guy," he's not opposed to going anywhere across the country, if he feels comfortable at the school.  That is obvious by his college choices, which lie in almost every geographic section of the country.

Matt has narrowed his choices down to Oregon, Tennessee, Penn State, Notre Dame, Arizona State.  Oregon (9-6), Tennessee (11-8), and Washington (12-13) have already received official visits, although Washington appears to no longer be under serious consideration as they are his sixth ranked team.

After Penn State, Matt will travel to either Notre Dame or Arizona State, but that decision has not yet been made.

"I don't know.  I still have to see which one I want to visit."

A factor that could hinder Penn State's recruitment of Matt is his friendship with Long Beach Poly defensive end, Junior Lemau'u, who Penn State does not appear to be recruiting.  Both Matt and Junior would like to attend same college, although they are not bound to any kind of "package deal."  Junior, like Matt, lists Tennessee, Arizona State, and Oregon among his top 5.

Currently, Matt favors Tennessee and Oregon over the others, but admits that a good visit could propel the others into serious contention as well.  He does have the date set when he will announce his intentions to the public.

"I'll wait until the 5th." (National Letter of Intent Day - February 5th, 2003)

(Interview by Steve Curry)

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