And the surprising decision that Philipp made, to choose Oregon State, surprised even Fifita. But how Philipp went about arriving at his decision is also the same approach that Fifita is taking to his own recruitment.
"We all were surprised with what he did," said Fifita. "But he had to go with the school that fit him best. And that's how I'm looking at it. I'm pretty much open to going anywhere. I'll do my research, though, and see which college fits me best."
Fifita already has one scholarship offer, from UNLV, but several more schools are showing interest in him.
"I was excited about the UNLV offer, to get that first one and get that out of the way," said Fifita. "Right now, I'm hearing a lot from Oregon, Colorado, Oregon State, Boise State, Colorado State, UNLV and UCLA."
And five of those schools make up his current leaderboard.
"My top five schools I would have to say are Oregon, Colorado, UNLV, UCLA and Washington," said Fifita. "Growing up I was a big fan of watching USC and UCLA, but I haven't heard from USC much. And Washington, with the coaching change there, I'm interested in them a lot more. Oregon invited me up to their Junior Day, so we'll see if I can make it up there."
While Oregon State didn't make the initial top five, Fifita said there is plenty of interest in the Beavers.
"I talk to their coaches the other day, and they saw some of my game film and they want me to come to one of their camps. They told me there's a possibility to get an early offer," said Fifita.
But Fifita said there is a strong part of him that would like to stay in the Southland "I'd like to stay close to home if it worked out, so I'm looking to that," said Fifita. "That's why I like UCLA a lot. But I'm willing to go anywhere that fits me best."
Fifita plays both linebacker spots for Arroyo Valley, but said he'll likely end up outside in college. He said, "I think coaches like me outside, but whatever role I fit, whatever scheme we run, I'll play whatever they want me to play. I'd be willing to play safety if they need me there."
Fifita said several factors will play a role in his decision. "The graduation rate is big," said Fifita. "I want to go to a school that kids will graduate from. A lot of schools, they probably don't finish. So for me, if football doesn't work out, I'll have my degree to fall back on so I can take care of my family. And I'm looking for a good, stable coaching staff. I also want to be in a real football environment, where the school is big on football and the tradition is high."
The offense had been the focal point of Arroyo Valley the past two years, with Robert Fuller running it two years ago, before signing with Utah State, and then Philipp anchoring it a year ago.
"But this year, the defense, it's going to be more of a focus and the focal point of the team," said Fifita.
Fifita had a strong showing at the Badger/Scout 7on7 Passing Tournament earlier this month and he's planning on going to the Scout.com Combine in May and the Nike Camp in April.
As a junior, Fifita had 137 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries to earn all-league honors.
Academically, he has a 3.4 GPA and will take the SAT in April and the ACT in May.