Brandon Fanaika Enjoys Stanford Visit

The Bootleg talked to DT/OL Brandon Fanaika in the wake of Stanford's Junior Weekend. Attending Dallas Lloyd's Pleasant Grove (Utah), Fainaka may also go on an LDS mission after high school, just one wrinkle of many in his recruitment. Read on!

"It was good," Brandon Fanaika said of Stanford's Junior Weekend. "It was real nice; it definitely never gets old going there. I liked it a lot. It gave me a good chance to get to know some kids from around there and some of the new coaches who just barely got there. It was a good experience and I liked it a lot."

Fanaika mentioned Calif. DT Aziz Shittu, Calif. TE Taylor McNamara and Atlanta DB Ryan Dillard (unoffered) as recruits he talked with most. He didn't stay overnight, however, instead choosing to spend the night with family in the area.

Fanaika came across with such enthusiasm in his interview with The Bootleg that we're going to let him tell the story of his recruitment from here on out. Envision him gushing throughout, especially when discussing Stanford.

"[The staff] are great, great people, and there's definitely something different, just in the way they present themselves and what they're all about," he said. "It speaks volumes that they're willing to put education before football, being football coaches. That's something that's really big to me and they seem 110 percent supportive of all the players and treat them like their own sons.

"Coach Mason is a great guy, and I got a good chance to sit down with him and learn a lot. Coach Anderson, I've known him for awhile, and he's always been great to me. All the coaches are great, great people. They definitely have a positive way of thinking about things.

"Coach Shaw, every question I had, he answered. We talked about me being LDS and going on my mission. We talked about some of the players on the team, Andrew Luck, and [Shaw] pretty much broke down the way [Shaw] does things, and it really appeals to me. He's just a great guy. It's the way he coaches, his perspective on treating the players, running the program, and education. That was the first time my parents got to talk with him, so they definitely got to pour their hearts out to him too. They had a good time with him too.

"He talked about how important education was to him and how important we were to him. He said there was a time when you can be a little more like an average coach and yell at the players, but most of the time, he treats them like people, like they're really special. That was a good thing - I got to watch practice and he also treated everyone like he was their best friend. There was a time to act like a coach and he did. The players knew that he was serious just from some of the things he did and said, correcting them, joking around with them. He wasn't babysitting them at all. They all knew and didn't need to be babysat, and I think that was a big reason of why he's such a great coach, because of his players.

"I was asking about church and he was very comfortable with it. Some schools are uneasy, this being my own decision, and it was really good. We asked about school, about players who get injured and what happens to them, and some tips on the ACT. He was fully cooperative and answered everything gladly, so it was good.

"This past term I got a 3.8 and this first term a 3.9 and right now a 4.0, so hopefully I'll be able to keep that. I'm taking the ACT on March 1 [note: this interview was conducted before March 1, but released now to space out the Junior Day content], and it's actually free for all juniors here in Utah. I took one two weeks ago, and I'll see the score in a couple of days. The SAT, I've not taken yet and not sure that I will, I'll talk with my parents. If have to, I will for sure.

"USC and Oregon are sending lots of letters and Stanford is too. But Stanford and Utah State are my two offers. [Ed: Fanaika texted The Bootleg this week to report a new offer from Arizona.] I've kept in contact with Utah and BYU and coaches from schools from out east are sending letters. LSU and Nebraska have been sending letters.

"Utah and BYU, they said they're really close to offering. Those other schools have all been telling me they're very interested and they'd like to take it a step further in the evaluation process. I'll go to a couple of camps this summer and try to make myself better. If I impress some people doing it, that'd be great.

"This upcoming summer, it's mostly to improve myself and get better at areas I feel I could get better at. Obviously there are lots of areas: my punch, my footwork, obviously my speed, my technique. I think technique's a big part of football so I'm trying to get close to perfecting it.

"Weighing as much as I do, especially playing OL just my physical strength is a strength. I've been lifting a lot and just the experience I have, I think that'll be pretty positive for me. I've gone up against kids from across the nation, and that has really helped me a lot from an experience and mindset perspective, so I think those will definitely be big positives for me.

"All the schools out east have said I'd play defense, at Notre Dame a DT, at Tennessee a DT, and then the schools out here are looking at me for OL, but I understand that things change, and I'm more than happy to play wherever I'm needed and can help a team out the most. I've played OL more than I have DL in my career, but I'm more than happy to play wherever coaches need me.

"Playing both ways growing up is always fun, so in college that would be really fun and definitely prepare me if I'm hoping to go to the next level, and in general just be a lot of fun. I'd really consider playing both ways if I were needed to play both ways.

"I'm really good friends with Dallas Lloyd. We did overlap, his senior year when I was a sophomore, we played together. It was really an honor blocking for Dallas. He was just a great player. I think he's really happy about Stanford too. We did talk before he went on his mission, and now that he's on mission, I've written him a couple of letters, but not about football. We can definitely talk football when he gets back. He's in Chile. Down there, a lot of them are LDS and will fall away, so it's more a matter of bringing them back to the church.

"I definitely want to go [on my mission]. It'd be cool to go out of the United States and pick up on another language. I think it'll help with expanding my knowledge of the world, and I think it'll really make me a smarter person. Studying a different language will teach me about studying and expand my room to learn more. So if I had a choice to go any place, I'd somewhere foreign, but I'm good with wherever.

"I'm not too sure whether I want to go to college for one season or go on mission [first]. I have consulted with my parents a little and we'll decide to talk when the time comes. [The timing] is still undecided, so now it's just the fact of serving it. I'll probably decide right before graduation. If I were to go to college, deciding right before I graduate would help me on that. But if I decided to stay and go on mission, I wouldn't go until after graduation.

"Distance, I don't think it'll be that big a factor in my decision. In California, I have family just 30 minutes away from every school out there, so if I were to leave I don't think it'd be that big of a problem, especially just because I see it as a way of growing up.

"I was offered by Coach Harbaugh. Once I found out he was going to leave, I kind of panicked a little, but once I talked to Lance, I knew I was going to be fine. Coach Shaw, I went before to their Junior Day my sophomore year and got to build a strong relationship with Coach Shaw, so when I found out it was going to be him, it was kind of a sigh of relief, especially with the new coaches coming in."

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