Coming of his fourth official visit to Oregon last weekend, Sione Fua was poised for some introspection and a college decision during the week. His last two trips had him highest on Stanford and Oregon, though he maintained that four schools - including Cal and BYU - were still in play. Then on Monday he heard sweet whispers from his old flame, USC, and his recruitment was turned upside-down. Talks with the Trojans quickly led to a hastened fifth official visit scheduled for this weekend, and it looked like nobody could beat USC.
That is, unless USC beat themselves.
"Before when they were recruiting me, they said that if I go to USC, I could not take my mission," explains the Mormon man, who plans on taking his two-year religious service after his first year of college. "I thought that this time maybe they had changed their mind. I wanted to be sure about that before I went there this weekend, so I called them up Thursday night. They said 'no.' I still could not take my mission."
"There was no point in going on the visit," Fua continues. "I told them thanks for their interest, but it was best for them and me not to waste the time. I think they thought they were going to change my mind, but it is too important for me to take my mission."
Starting Friday, that left the Encino (Calif.) Crespi Carmelite High School standout with the same list of four schools he had at the beginning of the week. Three of those schools had already spent their one NCAA-allowed in-home visit from their head coach, with Bronco Mendenhall, Mike Bellotti and most recently Walt Harris making their in-person pitch to the Southern California student-athlete. Cal head coach Jeff Tedford was scheduled for the fourth and final in-home visit Friday night, but a phone call from the Bears came instead.
"They said I was just too late," the recruit recounts. "A lot of other people committed already and filled up all their spots."
While Fua said earlier this week that Cal trailed both Stanford and Oregon as he inched closer to his college decision, the news on Friday was a disappointing end to his journey all the same. Fua had held a special place for the Bears in his heart for a long time; his cousin, Marvin Philip, is a senior All-American center at Berkeley.
"Cal was one of my top schools throughout all this, but I guess the good news is that now I have just three schools to think about," Fua offers. "That makes my decision easier."
The Crespi two-way lineman has been offered by local TV stations the chance to announce his college commitment on live television, but he says that he is more likely to make the phone call to some service once he has made his decision. That could come in the next couple days.
"I'll probably decide by the end of this weekend," Fua opines. "I need to sit down with my parents and talk this all out. Then I'll sleep on it and have my decision."
Unwilling to name any leader among his final three, Fua does offer half a hint toward who might have his services come Signing Day. Earlier this week he laid out three criteria upon which he will build his decision. He told The Bootleg that it will come down to academics, religion and football. Stanford, BYU and Oregon, respectively, were tops in those three categories. What does he now say may be the most important topic of discussion between him and his parents this weekend?
"Probably education. I'm not sure," he allows.
Sione Fua is ranked by Scout.com as the #17 defensive tackle prospect in the nation and the #40 overall recruit in the West region this year. He earned First Team All-State honors for medium schools from Cal-Hi Sports, as well as Second Team All-State across all schools. Strong and athletic, Fua will be an impact player in the interior of the defensive line or the offensive line for whichever school is fortunate enough to land him.
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