Bruins Recruit Hawaiian Stud

UCLA brought in a pair of Hawaii standouts in the class of 2006, and they're back on the Islands to recruit a class of 2009 stud, who just may be the top prospect in the West in the junior class...

Punahou HS in Hawaii is consistently frequented by college coaches, but the Honolulu school will be bracing itself for a big influx of visitors come next spring because of one prospect who could be the top prospect in the West, if not top overall prospect in the nation for the class of 2009, linebacker Manti Te'o.

At 6-1, 225-pounds and with 4.6 speed, Te'o is just beginning to scratch the surface of what he can do, but that hasn't stopped several schools from verbally offering the linebacker.

"I have 16 (verbal) offers right now," said Te'o. "Off the top of my head, BYU, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, Stanford, Cal, Texas A&M and Colorado are ones that are standing out. But I'm still open to all options. Right now, I'm just concentrating on my season."

Te'o played his freshman year at Kahuku, along with his cousin Shiloh Te'o, but made the switch to Punahou for his sophomore year, and instantly made an impact, on both sides of the ball. He played running back as well for Punahou, but he knows his future is on the defensive side of the ball.

"I'm playing outside for Punahou," said Te'o. "Some schools say they want me on the strongside, some want me as a weakside, and I could play middle. It just depends on the defensive scheme."

While his first two years of high school left an impression, it was at the all-Poly Camp that he really made his mark.

Chris Fetters,'s Northwest Recruiting Analyst, saw Te'o at the all-Poly camp and had this to say:

"In my opinion, not only was Te'o the top player of this camp, he's the top high school player in the state of Hawaii right now, regardless of position or class. Te'o is a physical freak of nature, but it's the way he carries himself, the way he involves others around him and the way he takes control of what's happening on the field in any situation that truly makes him one of the special players of the game. I've never gone on record a year in advance, predicting that a player is a can't-miss prospect. I have now. Manti Te'o is a can't-miss prospect."

Te'o also camped at the Education First Football Camp and looked on, though he didn't participate, at the BYU camp.

"I wanted to attend the Nike Camp, but it was a little too late. Its tough to get out to the mainland," said Te'o.

Te'o said that he's got a loose timeline of when he wants to begin to narrow things down, but at this point, there isn't a leader emerging.

"My dad is pushing me to cut it down to a top five, but wanting me to concentrate on the season," said Te'o. "I'm staying completely wide open for now, and by the end of the season, I should have a top five."

Te'o said that a few schools were ones he had childhood interest in.

"I just recently started rooting for USC. My cousin Shiloh attended the USC camp and came home rooting for the Trojans. And of course, the hometown school UH (Hawaii). And BYU is the church school. They were the first school to offer me," said Te'o.

With Shiloh committed to BYU, Te'o said that he's very interested in the Cougars, but that his cousin's decision to attend there will have no bearing on his own.

"Shiloh and I will blaze our own path," said Te'o. "His decision to go and accept BYU's offer verbally doesn't affect me."

Te'o is an excellent student, holding a 3.7 GPA and planning to take the SAT this fall.

"I want to major in architecture or engineering, and I want to go to a school that has a strong focus on that," said Te'o.

He also said there is no pressure looming for him to stay on the Islands.

"I can leave for school, I don't feel any pressure to stay here," said Te'o.

Last fall, Te'o was a second team all-state selection.

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