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
“Besides USC being my dream school growing up,” Toailoa asked
rhetorically. “Growing up and seeing USC as my dream school, not even
knowing the game of football, that’s one thing.
“Getting older, I started doing research and it became about what
school had the most to offer me. 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.”
The last time Toailoa unofficially visited USC was for the Trojans
Elite Junior Invitational in January. Since then USC signed four highly
touted linebackers for 2015, making the Trojans’ depth chart that much
“No matter what school you go to or what position you play, you’re
always going to be competing against another guy,” said Toailoa.
“You’re going to have to show up with your A game everyday.
“You’ll have to compete against someone right now, or maybe someone in
the future. You have to be ready to compete.”
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
“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
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
“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.”
Toailoa ready to commit
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