Junior DT Prospect Mataele Pauu

Considered one of the best prospects in Southern California in his class, junior defensive tackle <b>Mataele Pauu</b> has some early, local favorites, but Pauu is also looking for a school that will take a special circumstance into consideration...

Mataele Pauu, 6-3, 295, Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa, is potentially one of UCLA's top early targets for the class of 2005.

The defensive tackle is considered one of the best at his position in the west and among the best linemen overall. He also has decent academics, with close to a 3.0 GPA and having scored a 970 on his PSAT, which is adequate.

Pauu had a big year as a sophomore, which got him noticed by his opponents. So, this last year as a junior he was fighting off double-teams the entire season. He still registered 100 tackles, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Playing as a Fridge-type fullback, he had 30 carries for 200 yards and five touchdowns. He said he's continued to add muscle and bulk since the end of the season, up to 295 pounds now.

Pauu's sophomore year also got him noticed by college coaches. "I started getting recruiting letters my sophomore year," Pauu said, "Now coaches are calling and talking to my coach. He said he's getting a lot of calls."

Pauu said he's heard from UCLA, USC, Oregon, Michigan, Arizona State, BYU, Washington, Notre Dame and others.

"UCLA was the first to ever write me a letter and the first to offer me a scholarship," Pauu said. "Toward the end of my sophomore season."

Pauu claims that not only UCLA has offered him, but Oregon, Arizona State, Michigan and San Jose State have, too.

When asked if he had an early favorite, Pauu said, "UCLA, probably. I grew up a UCLA fan, watching Cade McNown. And probably USC. I'm not really sure between the two."

Pauu, who is Tongan and a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, said the most important aspect of his recruitment will be whether the college allows him to take his mission right out of high school. He said, "That's what I plan to do. So, I'd be interested in any school that would allow me to serve my mission. It's really important to me, and really important to my family."

The big defensive tackle said that, if he does go on his mission immediately after high school and can't play college football until potentially the fall of 2007, he still wants to go through the recruiting process now and decide on a school. "I'd like to know where I was going to go," he said.

Pauu plans on attending camps and combines this spring, and said he's gotten invited by UCLA, Michigan and Arizona State to visit their campuses unofficially. "I'd like to go see those schools. I haven't been to UCLA. Michigan really wants me. And I'd like to go visit USC's spring practice."

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