SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Concord (Calif.) De La Salle four-star tight end Devin Asiasi only had one catch in the CIF Open Division state championship Saturday night at Hornet Stadium.
It was an important catch, giving the Spartans a big first down en route to their first touchdown of the night, but it had minimal impact on the final outcome of the Spartans’ 28-21 victory that give them back-to-back state titles over Corona (Calif.) Centennial.
Yet, Asiasi was one of the game’s top playmakers. it was just on the other side of the ball. He was a force at defensive end, throwing linemen around to get to ball carriers and doing a great job of not being over-aggressive against Centennial’s read option attack.
Asiasi also did a great job of using his length and his 6-foot-4, 265-pound frame to take away passing lanes for 5-foot-10 Huskies quarterback Anthony Catalano. When he couldn’t get to the quarterback in time to pressure Catalano, he got his hands up in the passing lane and knocked down multiple quick passing attempts.
“It was definitely an emphasis because they pass really quick,” Asiasi said. “It’s just a quick-hitting team. They hit these screens, quick slants, these little curls and all of that. Our scout coach told us to get our hands up and try to knock some balls down. Early in the game, I did that a few times.”
Asiasi finished with nine tackles, one for a loss, helping hold Centennial more than 150 yards and 35 points less than it had averaged all season. The De La Salle defense also stopped the Huskies on five of the seven times they went for it on fourth down.
With the jubilation of winning another state title, Asiasi was living in the moment. Contemplating his college future was more difficult than containing the edge against Centennial.
“It’s going great,” Asiasi said of the recruiting process. “I’m in the process of taking my official visits in January, but this feeling right now is just great. Everything from my recruiting is just past my head right now.”
The burly jumbo athlete could have a future on the defensive side of the ball, but he has been offered by most schools as a tight end since that is the position he prefers. He hasn’t been able to showcase his pass-catching skills to the fullest extent this season because of how potent the De La Salle rushing attack always is. At the next level, that gives him the chance to blossom and surprise some people that wish he would focus his attention to becoming a full-time defensive lineman.
USC is one of the schools that has been recruiting him hardest to play tight end and that’s part of the reason why Asiasi is high on the Trojans.
“They are just telling me that they want me. They think I’m going to be great for that position because I can get widened out and then I can come in and get into the trenches.”
It also doesn’t hurt the Trojans that Asiasi has been rooting for the cardinal and gold since he was a child.
“I grew up as a USC fan and seeing all of those Polynesian players that came. Junior Seau, Troy Polomalu, all of them that came through that program. Just looking up to those guys as a young boy and wanting to be just like them. The whole legacy [stands out].
“They are just a great program overall. They have national championships. They have guys that go to the league, all of that stuff and I know they are good people.”
Asiasi was very supportive of the Clay Helton hire.
“He’s a good guy. I know he’s a good guy deep down. When I went to go visit them last fall for the USC/Notre Dame game last year, he was a just a great guy. He was just a genuine, good guy.”
According to Asiasi, both tight ends-turned-quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo and Helton have been actively recruiting him. But it’s who else they are recruiting that has Asiasi even more excited.
“It means the world to me because that’s my brother,” Asiasi said. “Ever since the seventh-eighth grade, man, we’ve been together. We went through so many things and we got to the position that we are right now. We’ve just been so blessed.”
“For him to get that offer, it gives him another opportunity to go to a school that gives him the best opportunities he can get, not for only football, but for life. I think it’s great for him and it’s all up to him in the end.”
In January, Asiasi plans to visit USC and expects Tagaloa to join him.
“Oh yea, he’s going to take a visit. He’s definitely going to take a visit. I’m making him take a visit because I went to the UCLA visit with him, so he’s taking the USC visit with me.”
After all the visits are done in January, both Asiasi and Tagaloa will have a decision to make. They both said they plan to make their official announcement on National Signing Day.
Even though they won’t be playing side-by-side on the same offensive and defensive line (Tagaloa also played offensive tackle for the Spartans), there is a good possibility that the good friends could end up attending the same college. They are looking for what is best for each, but are hoping that what’s best is them playing together for four more years.