Evan Palelei: The Back Story

Armed with three offers from West Coast universities, three-star linebacker Evan Palelei (Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas, NV) decided to end his college recruitment early, verbally committing to Stanford last Saturday. In an exclusive interview with The Bootleg, Palelei shared his reasons for choosing Stanford, and what he hopes to bring to the football program once he arrives on campus come fall.

Evan Palelei chose Stanford over offers from Colorado and UNLV, in addition to interest from UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Colorado State, Nevada, SDSU, Oregon, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

"I truly believe in the Stanford football program," Palelei said. "I thought it was great the way that football program interacted with the rest of the school."

Palelei made his college decision while on an unofficial visit to Stanford last weekend.

"On Friday morning, when I first got to campus, I ate breakfast at the training table and then took a tour of the campus," Palelei said. "After that, we went into a meeting with some of the coaches and ate lunch. Then, I went to the team meetings – the team was watching film from its practice on Thursday. That took up most of the day and then they toured us around the academic facilities.

"The next day we went to more meetings, and then we broke up into defense and then position meetings. I went with the linebackers. Then we went out and watched them practice, and then I got to see the stadium."

What came next was probably most important, however. Despite being in Palo Alto for fewer than 48 hours, Palelei decided to end his college recruitment.

"I was in a one-on-one meeting with Coach Harbaugh and I gave him my commitment," Palelei said. "He was happy: he congratulated me and said he was glad to have me. Then, I went around and met all the other coaches, and they all congratulated me and welcomed me to the program."

While on his visit, Palelei was able to get well acquainted with the Stanford coaching staff.

"They have a lot of great energy -- really positive energy," Palelei said. "They really know what they're talking about, as far as I can tell."

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Palelei chose to end his recruitment early so he can focus on his senior year of high school.

"It's just a lot to think about when you're going through your senior season, and I wanted to focus on winning a state championship and finishing high school out," Palelei said. "At school, I can't get into any trouble and I need to keep my grades up. Team-wise, I fully expect us to win state: we can and should win. Personally, I want to become a more aggressive player and hopefully, because we got a new head coach, I'll get a different role where I can be more aggressive at that position."

Palelei, who plans to major in architectural engineering, reports a 1910 SAT and a 3.0 GPA, though with a caveat.

"My GPA is a 3.0 now, but Stanford calculates GPA differently and I don't know how it will turn out," Palelei said. "It will probably be higher, because they don't count freshman year and freshman year is when I got all my bad grades. Everywhere else, I got A's and B's."

Ranked Scout.com's No. 14 middle linebacker in the Class of 2010, Palelei will begin working on the Stanford application later this month, when assistant coach Lance Anderson visits Bishop Gorman High School to meet with Palelei and fellow Gorman student and Stanford commit Alex Turner.

Turner and Palelei have been playing football together for years. With Turner, a DL recruit, figuring to play right in front of Palelei, a likely future strong-side linebacker, the two should be able to take their football relationship to the next level.

"Alex has always been next to me either on the line or opposite the line," Palelei said. "It's a great help having him there, and just knowing the player who I'm going to be with at the next level is a great help. I know his tricks, and I know what he's thinking when the double team comes at him."

For his part, Palelei, who made 45 tackles and two sacks his junior season, will look to support Turner with exceptional speed and effort.

"I do my best to play hard every down," said Palelei, who reports an unofficial 4.7 forty. "I'm fast: I like to use my speed a lot and I stay square to the ballcarrier pretty well. The position they're recruiting me for [strongside linebacker] is the same position I've been playing for the last two years in high school, so I'm familiar with it."

And like his teammate Turner, Palelei said his commitment to Stanford is solid.

"I fully intend to go to Stanford," Palelei said. "I will do a few camps and combines just to get my rating up, but other than that I don't really plan on seeing a whole bunch of other universities.

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