Mililani (Hawaii) four-star running back Vavae Malepeai was a done deal to sign a letter of intent for the Oregon Ducks just a week ago, but the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Hawaiian Gatorade Player of the Year had second thoughts.
Scheduled to officially visit USC two times over the past two months, Malepeai played it safe and kept his commitment solid with Oregon. But his curiosity combined with his relationship with USC assistant coach Johnny Nansen got the better of him.
“USC has never stopped recruiting him, and I think he always wanted to see other schools to be able to compare,” said Mililani head football coach Roy York. “Vavae is a humble, quiet kid. He didn’t do any of this for attention.
“He was really interested in what USC had to offer, and once he knew his family was going to support him no matter what school he picked, he made that trip.”
It was a trip which quickly changed the course of his recruitment.
“I've decided to attend the University of Southern California,” said Malepeai. “It's good signing because there's no turning back now. I'm just ready to get to USC and compete. It was a hard process.
"Coach (Johnny) Nansen was pressing me the whole time to take a visit, but I kept putting it off. The Coach (Clay) Helton came out and I had a chance to hear what he had to say. Seeing the head coach come out to recruit me himself was crazy.
"I decided to roll with it and visit. When I got there, I loved it. I had a great visit. I think the main thing with USC is that the education speaks for itself."
Malepeai rushed for 1,952 yards and 29 touchdowns on 234 carries this past season, leading the Trojans (10-3) to the Division I semifinals. That’s the Mililani Trojans.
Malepeai set a state record for career rushing yards with 4,556. He was also named a finalist for U.S. Army All-American Player Of The Year honors. He led the West squad to a 37-9 victory with 74 yards on eight carries.
“The prospect with the least amount of buzz coming in because of his native land, Hawaiian tailback Malepeai ended up as the game-high rusher on just eight carries,” said Scout National Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman. “He was decisive, quick in the open field and may have had the two best spin moves of the afternoon.”
Malepeai is rated the nation’s No. 16 running back and the No. 275 player overall by Scout Media.