Phoenix (Ariz.) four-star sophomore Matthew Pola-Mao received a scholarship offer from USC last year when he unofficially visited Los Angeles with his brother Isaiah.
The visit, and process in
“I learned what to do and not to do,” said Pola-Mao. “We always dreamed of being on a path together.
“Watching him be recruited, it’s certainly made my path clearer. I know to get my academics right. I know the classes I should be in and the parties I shouldn’t go to.
“I learned what hard work looks like. We have a park right next to our house. All Isaiah does is drills and run laps. He really does work hard and now I’m right here with him. Seeing him do that inspires me to do it too.”
With Isaiah being one of the nation’s top safety prospects in the class of 2017, some assumed Matthew’s scholarship offer from USC was just an incentive to land his older brother. But after an impressive performance at The Opening Regional in Los Angeles two weeks ago, Matthew looks like a prized recruit at a great position of need.
“Isaiah has made the path smoother and he has helped me a lot,” said Pola-Mao. “When we went on that visit to USC, it just felt like home.
“I had a nice little one-on-one conversation with Coach (Clay) Helton. He was just telling me how USC would be a good fit for me.
“I also talk with the defensive line coach (Kenechi Udeze) too. He was just telling me about the other great defensive linemen that have come through USC. He tells me about how he can get me into that draft.
“Isaiah and I always dreamed of going to the same college, and walking through the campus together was pretty cool. It makes my choice a lot easier when I’m looking it at other colleges.”
An easier choice is still not a final choice.
Pola-Mao still has two more years before signing his own letter of intent. Between now and then, Matthew will hear a lot from his older brother.
“He does try to recruit me a lot,” said laughed Pola-Moa. “He tells me the other players at USC want me as a teammate and talks about how school wise going to USC will be easier.
“He will already be there, and USC is a good school, so getting a degree from there would be great.”
While Isaiah Pola-Moa will be on campus at USC in June, his decision to sign with the Trojans only influences his brother so far. Matthew still has to make a decision which suits him best.
“I have a lot of family in California and I’ve always loved USC since I was a kid,” said Pola-Mao. “The first college game I ever went to was a USC game.
“It was the Rose Bowl game against Michigan. That was the first game I saw live. My family all loves USC and they have a great Polynesian tradition.”
That tradition has seen an influx of new blood in recent years.
“That’s a big deal to me because it makes me feel like I’m in a family at USC,” said Pola-Mao. “USC is a Polynesian school and I think I would fit in a lot more because there are people there I relate to.”
Not so coincidentally, the two other schools high on Pola-Mao's list are the two other schools his brother considered before committing to USC.
“ASU and Washington are the schools I’m most likely looking at,” said Pola-Mao. “The exact same schools Isaiah looked at. (laughs)
“But honestly, I’m still thinking whether I want to go through the process or just get it over with. I’m thinking I will do it a little sooner than signing day. I’m still deciding that.”