In a Sunday night phone interview, Rex Manu told The Bootleg that he has verbally committed to play for Stanford. The six-foot-three, 290-pound defensive tackle from Hawaii visited The Farm for Junior Day this past weekend. He said the Cardinal had been his top choice since offering a scholarship last month, but that experiencing campus in person sealed the deal for him.
"I wasn't too sure [before the Junior Day visit] because you only see them on TV, and hear about them in other places," Manu said. "It was a thing of myth. But when I went there and learned what they're all about, it was set. There's no other choice right now."
Colorado, Hawaii, and Army have also offered Manu, while his recruitment appears to be blossoming with newfound interest coming from other programs, most notably USC, Oregon, UCLA, and BYU.
Stanford, though, has a very firm hold on the proceedings after this past weekend.
"It was great, truly amazing," Manu said in his initial post-visit text message to The Bootleg. "I'm sure I'm going to attend StanU."
Several Years in the Making
Manu said that he's been working in the classroom and on the field to draw Stanford's attention since his freshman year. Just last month, his head coach approached him in the Mililani High School cafeteria and brought good news: The Cardinal had decided to extend Manu a scholarship offer.
"At that very moment, I felt that all the training, all the staying up late doing homework was finally worth it," he said.
On the phone several days later, Manu informed defensive coordinator Lance Anderson that Stanford was his top choice. That set the stage for this past weekend's Junior Day, which satisfied the defensive tackle's lingering concerns.
"It was amazing," Manu said. "And it was not what I expected -- in a good way."
He had initially feared that Stanford, with its prestigious academic reputation, might feature an uptight atmosphere that wouldn't necessarily fit his personality. The weekend visit, though, dispelled any such reservations.
"I really enjoyed the vibe," Manu said. "It was very free, very non-restricting. But at the same time, there was still that good sense of having to do what you needed to do."
Fellow Hawaiian defensive lineman Luke Kaumatule hosted Manu for Junior Day. The two were actually former teammates at Punahou School, where Manu played as a freshman before transferring to Mililani. Luke was a senior at the time, and his younger brother Canton Kaumatule -- who is Manu's age -- was also on the team. Stanford is also recruiting Canton in this 2015 cycle, and Manu says he's close with both Kaumatule brothers.
He also specifically mentioned Aziz Shittu and Andrus Peat as two current Cardinal players who made his first visit particularly enjoyable. Manu is considering returning to The Farm as early as this summer for a Stanford camp, which he may attend with some Mililani teammates.
An Academic Focus on Engineering
Lance Anderson will travel to Hawaii next month, where he will meet with Manu and his high school counselor to make sure the defensive tackle's senior year class schedule is tailored to clear Stanford's rigorous admissions standards. Manu is currently taking the "full academic load" that the university suggests, which includes two AP courses and four core classes. He envisions himself majoring in engineering, though he isn't firmly decided on a specific track.
"I know I want to be in the field of engineering," Manu said. "But I've switched interested from civil engineering to chemical engineering to petroleum engineering." (Note: recent Stanford nickel back Usua Amanam is close to earning his Master's degree in Petroleum Engineering)
Plugging the Middle
Manu becomes Stanford's third verbal commitment of the 2015 recruiting cycle, joining safety Arrington Farrar and linebacker Christian Folau. His film shows impressive quickness, particularly given his six-foot-three, 290-pound frame. Manu credits the development of many of his attributes to his father Tika Manu, a linebacker who played his college ball at Utah and saw a short NFL stint with the San Francisco 49ers.
"He always stressed for me to be violent with my hands and to always pursue the ball," Manu said.
Many of the younger Manu's takedowns are indeed violent, and his motor has translated into a number of tackles in space on film. But beyond that, it's tough to get a firm gauge on what Manu deems to be his biggest strength on the field.
"I don't really like to talk about myself," he said. "I just like to get the job done."
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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