Toailoa Ready to Commit

Mar. 22 -- Monday at 7:00 p.m. PST, four-star middle linebacker Lokeni Toailoa will commit to Oklahoma, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Utah, Washington or Notre Dame...

Rialto (Calif.) Carter four-star linebacker Lokeni Toailoa will go from many, to some, to one within a two week period.

Toailoa had more than 20 scholarship offers to choose from and decided to narrow his focus to seven schools last week. That announcement preludes the decision to make a commitment to a college Monday night.

Toailoa will join his brother Leni and three other area recruits in an announcement ceremony in Rancho Cucamonga.

“For me, and I’m not sure if it’s like this for every recruit, but some schools started standing out more than others almost immediately when the offers started rolling in,” said Toailoa. “I think those schools all stood out academically and football wise.”

While his list represents a mix of defensive schemes, each school’s vision for Toailoa was almost identical.

“Every school pretty much is saying the same thing,” said Toailoa. “They all see me as an inside linebacker. They like how I play in space and want me running side line to sideline and making plays.

“With USC, they said their inside backers are kind of like the same thing. We did talk about me being a MIKE backer, but the WILL and MIKE are almost the same thing.

“If I was to go there, I would play inside and kind of figure out which position fit me best. With most schools, they just want me inside regardless of the scheme.”

Toailoa grew up a USC fan, and his family has followed Trojan football since he was young. However, there are other reasons the Trojans made the list among his final seven college choices.

“Getting older, I started doing research and it became about what school had the most to offer me," Toailoa said. "USC is definitely one of those schools that has a lot to offer academically and for other reasons. Even though I’m older, I still like the school.”

But UCLA, more recently, has also been a school Toailoa likes. In fact, judging from his social media feed, one could get the impression the Bruins are the school to beat for his commitment Monday.

That would be a decision that could conflict with his father’s wishes.

“At the end of the day, he’s going to support me no matter where I go,” said Toailoa. “He’ll still be at the games, and it’s not going to change are relationship.

“He’s always going to be a USC fan and whatnot, but he’s always going to be my father and I’m always going to be his son.”

A factor working in UCLA’s favor is the recent commitment of fellow four-star linebacker Krys Barnes of Bakersfield (Calif.). Toailoa and Barnes both play for the seven-on-seven team Ground Zero and have become friends as off season teammates.

“Krys and I have a good relationship and we’ve had great success on the field together in seven-on-seven,” said Toailoa. “I’m happy for him because that’s what’s best for him.

“It would be nice to play together in college, and he’s trying to get me to go to UCLA, but at the end of the day, his decision isn’t going to affect whether I go to UCLA.”
While Toailoa has not seen several of the schools on his list in person, he has had more than a year to research most of his options and prepare for an early decision.

“For one, talking to numerous recruits and people who have been through this process, recruiting can be a distraction,” said Toailoa. “Recruiting gets in your head. It can stop you from having a big senior season.

“I’m trying to go out strong my senior season without any distractions or things going through me head. I don’t want to worry about recruiting.”

Toailoa says that the option of graduating early is also on the table, but he has yet to determine whether he will enroll at his college of choice in January or wait until June of his senior year.

What may impact that decision is whether Toailoa decides to take official visits after his senior season despite being committed.

“At this point, I’m not too sure,” said Toailoa. “I can’t really answer that question because I don’t know what the future holds.

“You see recruits commit all of the time and then having a change of heart and suddenly de-commit. I don’t know how it’s going to play out for me.”

However, as of last week, Toailoa had a good idea of where he was headed.

“This is a huge decision for me, so there’s always going to be doubts and second guessing or whatnot,” said Toailoa. “Whatever school I pick on Monday will be the best school for me.

“The doubts and second guessing will be there, and from talking to other recruits, they went through the same thing as well. I think that’s just part of the process.”

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