A year after taking 8 offensive linemen in the 2012 class, the Utes are off to another solid start with their second for 2013 after Sherman Oaks (CA) Notre Dame's Leroy Sitake Tanoai pulled the trigger.
"I did commit. I went up to their junior day and got to know Coach Finn pretty well. I got to sit down with Coach Whittingham. I felt comfortable with the staff I was very happy with how the program is being run and everything they have to offer me. Utah offered me last season and it really set in this junior day that they really wanted me and the offer was for real. It just felt right."
That junior day experience ended up being the icing on the cake for the 6-4, 285 pound linemen who knew he'd found the right place.
"Since I got back from Junior Day I just talked it over with my family and thought it would be the best decision for me. I knew the coaches were great and seeing it firsthand at the junior day really sealed the deal that Utah was the best place for me."
Tanoai was also drawn to the thought of playing for family as his half brother is defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake.
"My brother is the defensive coordinator, so I'm just happy that I can be around family. I know he'll take good care of me, and he'll be honest with me when no one else can."
The relationship and comfortability Tanoai has with Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham went a long ways in making him ready to commit, and he was happy to do so today.
"I talked to Coach Whittingham today and it was a good talk. He was very happy with my decision and told me to concentrate on my upcoming year. I've always looked at Utah as a great program and a place I'd maybe like to go and I've always looked up to coach Whittingham as a great example. I remember when my cousin Sefa (Tanoai), who's on his mission right now, was being recruited and when he was ready to commit and he always talked about how Whittingham was always an upfront kind of guy."
Tanoi is also reporting offers from BYU, UCLA, Hawaii. Nebraska, and Washington, but is comfortable with his decision to be a Ute and won't be wavering between now and signing day.
"I just met with the BYU coaches today, this was before I actually committed, and I thanked them for coming out. I'm thankful to all of the coaches that have recruited me and it's an honor that they've wanted me to play for them. I'd welcome other schools to come and recruit me and I'd look at their schools respectfully, but I'm a Ute."
The big man will help add depth to an offensive line that is sorely needing it, and likely will end up playing at the guard spot when he reaches Utah.
"I know I'll be playing somewhere on the offensive line. I imagine I'll be playing offensive guard, but right now I'm playing tackle. I'd be happy helping out the team anywhere that Coach Whittingham and Coach Finn want me."
Tanoai, who is LDS, has plans to serve a mission before ever enrolling at Utah, and the coaching staff's comfortability and respect for his wishes to do so played a big part in landing his services.
"When I talked to Coach Wittingham and told him I wanted to commit, I told him that I'd be going out on a mission before I play a year of football. I'll be turning 19 three months after I commit so I'll be going then. I was happy that the coaches there understand my religious point of view and can support me in that decision. I'm glad that Coach Whittingham was able to agree on me going on a mission before I play a year."
Tanoai comes from one of the top programs in Southern California, and his 2013 senior class has multiple players that he'd like to see join him at Utah.
"(RB) Khalfani Muhammad and (QB) Kelly Hilinski. It would be fun to have them play on the same team. I support them in whatever they do, but the selfish part of me wants them to come to Utah."
While Muhammad already has an offer from the Utes, Hilinski is still working for one, and has been maintaining contact with the Utah coaches.
"I know that he's been talking to Coach Johnson and that he's very interested, so hopefully they can work something out and he can be at Utah with me."
With 4 months until his senior year kicks off and 9 months until signing day, Tanoai will be taking it easy while enjoying the commitment before heading out to Salt Lake City to participate in their elite camp.
"I'll be going to the Utah camp in June, but that's the only camp I know I'll be attending."
Utah Lands Number 4 With Tanoai
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