The state of Utah sometimes has such an isolated feel that things can fly under the radar.
Whether it’s the natural beauty of Delicate Arch, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes and the Rocky Mountains rising over Salt Lake City or hulking defensive football recruits like Porter Gustin and Osa Masina, sometimes it takes people a bit longer to recognize the beauty and strength of Utah’s natural resources.
Four-star Murray (Utah) defensive end Maxs Tupai might be the latest example. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound athlete will line up all over the field making plays on both sides of the ball for Murray, but his recruitment has been almost completely silent this summer.
Part of that has been by necessity. Tupai has been locked in on summer school, retaking four classes to try to make himself a more enticing prospect on the field by taking care of business in the classroom.
“I haven’t really been focused on football that much as of now. I’ve just been working on summer school."
Tupai has enjoyed having the opportunity to be off the radar and not having coaches hounding him every other day to take a visit or to come to a summer camp. But since he said none of the schools have been in contact with him over the summer, he’s also ready to get back in the swing of recruitment as soon as possible.
“When you think about it, with football, it gets really stressful, just talking to other coaches,” he said. “But now that it has been on pause talking to the coaches, I’ve been kind of stressed because I’m not sure what I need to do.”
Since he hasn’t talked to coaches much this summer, Tupai thinks he’ll wait until after his upcoming senior season to take his official visits, choosing instead to focus on playing for his team and teammates.
At Murray, Tupai will be asked to do a little bit of everything on both sides of the football. He’ll line up with his hand on the ground coming off the edge; he’ll play linebacker and maybe even some safety. On offense, he’ll get the ball in his hands as a running back, but this year, he may also see some time blocking for other running backs.
“They’re just going to move me everywhere,” Tupai said. “Our o-line is not that great, so my coach might be putting me there. They say it’s kind of weird when they have the running back that is bigger than the offensive linemen, so they’re going to put me on the line for a little.”
Being such a versatile athlete, the No. 3 defensive end in the West and the No. 211 player in the Scout 300 will garner plenty of attention in the fall, but USC is one school that is already sitting high on his list. Tupai previously talked to USC tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon and feels that the Trojans will be in it until the end.
“They would be one of my top five picks, if I had to choose. They were talking about me coming to visit. It’d be a great idea,” he said. “I’ve heard really good things about their history at football. How they’ve had so many people go to the NFL. As of now, that is Plan A for me. I just want to be one of the people that would compete for going into the draft, if I was to go to USC.”
Tupai hasn’t figured out where he’ll take his official visits or if he’ll even take all five of them.
“There’s not five schools that I’ve favored yet. There’s just five schools that I’ve heard of that I might be interested in. I haven’t got into it. I really need to though. I feel like I’m running out of time.”
But he has provided the answer to any concerns about him academically. Now that he’s worked hard in the classroom in the summer, he’s ready to show his abilities on the football field.
Check out these 2014 Maxs Tupai highlights from his junior season: