Tagaloa attends Richmond, Calif.'s Salesian High School, a college prep high school best known in football circles for Cal star Jahvid Best, a recent alum. Fittingly, given the Best connection and Richmond's proximity to Berkeley, California was the only campus Tagaloa had visited before his May 7 Junior Day visit to Stanford, and his May 15 visit to the Palo Alto NIKE Camp on the Cardinal campus.
"I didn't know Stanford was that big," Tagaloa said. "We saw the view from the Hoover Tower, which was incredible, and we went by their chapel, which was breathtaking."
It wasn't just the scenery that attracted Tagaloa to Stanford, however.
"After [touring campus], I sat down in film session and it seems their coaches take the time to break down points," he said. "The OL coach [Tim Drevno] will replay the same play 20 times, just so he can correct the stance or movement of each offensive lineman. That tells me he takes his time and analyzes each film, and there were a lot of games in that film session.
"After that we attended team conditioning and saw how they do that and how hard they lift. I saw how coaches interact with the players. [The players] each have someone, whether it's a position coach or a lift coach, and they all share that special bond. All the coaches are real cool, laid-back guys."
Lest Stanford fans get too optimistic though, they must remember they're not the only team in the race. Hometown Cal also hosted Tagaloa on a visit, and he reports enjoying his time there as well.
"That was real good," he said. "They showed me around and started to show me plans for the new stadium. And we toured campus – did almost the exact same things as Stanford – watched the players lift, saw the locker room, the weight room."
While Tagaloa's recruitment has been a Bay Area affair to date, that will change in a hurry. Soon, Tagaloa and his head coach will head down I-5 for June 12 and June 23 visits to USC, for their Big Man Challenge and Rising Stars Camp, respectively. Plus, Tagaloa reports being in contact with LSU, Florida State, Notre Dame, Oregon State, Michigan State and UTEP, so he could have offers from every time zone and nearly every conference before it's all said and done.
One reason for all the interest in Tagaloa is his position. It's no secret, especially after the commercial success of "The Blind Side", that left tackle is among the most important positions in football, and Tagaloa is insistent that his college position remain left tackle.
"The left tackle is that blind side," he said. "I like knowing that, at the end of the day, my position carries a lot of weight with its name."
By contrast, though born and bred in the Bay Area, Tagaloa is much more flexible with regards to location.
"I don't know what to expect," he said. "I wouldn't mind going to the East Coast or the Midwest. The West Coast is nice, but I'm not married to it."
Another unique aspect of Tagaloa's recruitment is his degree of autonomy. Many recruits, especially higher-profile recruits such as Tagaloa, have their parents heavily involved in the process – consider 2011 Cardinal prospects James Vaughters and George Farmer, for example. For Freddie Tagaloa, however, while he may be just barely old enough to drive a car, the driver's seat in his recruitment is his and his alone. "[My parents] are not really involved," he said. "But every offer that comes through the mail or verbally, they're just on the sidelines telling me that the choice is mine, and not to let it all go to my head. As God can give, he can take away."
Tagaloa reports a 3.9 GPA and has not yet made plans to take the SAT. He hopes to study engineering in college.
Ultimately, Tagaloa can identify two factors that will loom large as he decides at which college he wants to study engineering and, oh yeah, play some football.
"One thing is atmosphere," he said. "How do the kids who have already gone through that school feel? What's their take? And the second is how comfortable I am with the coaching staff."
With that scoring rubric in mind, college coaches from around the country will try their best to lure the left tackle their way. Stay tuned to The Bootleg to see who makes the grade.
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