By Andrew Gorringe
It was a big night for the Utah coaching staff. After news broke about Nevada WR R.J. Hubert committing to Utah, new broke shortly afterwards that the Utes had received another commitment for the 2016 class, as Tustin HS LB Alema Pilimai decided that he was ready to make his decision on where he will play college football.
Like Hubert, Pilimai is a “do it all” player for Tustin High School, but just lines up in different positions. Pilimai plays QB, TE and LB, but is being recruited by the Utes to play linebacker, as he has a prototypical frame for the position at 6’4-205lbs. Pilimai received an offer from Utah back during the spring evaluation period, and has been recruited primarily by linebacker’s coach Justin Ena, and after much thought and conversation with his father, decided he knew where he wanted to attend college. “Last night my dad and I had a conversation about where I was in the process. He asked me a question that I really hadn’t been asked before, and it really made me think. He asked me, “Take everything away, football, family, religion….where do you want to go to school?” and my answer was simply Utah. BYU, Oregon State, Utah State and Washington State are all great programs with great coaches, but truth be told, I’ve always had a love for the Utes, and after talking with Coach Ena today, it just confirmed my decision.”
Pilimai told Coach Ena over the phone that he wanted to commit, and believes he caught the coach off guard when he finally came out and said it. “I think I kind of caught Coach Ena off guard to be honest. We were having a quick discussion about where I would fit in with the team, and I told him I wanted to commit, and his response was, “What was that?”” Pilimai said Coach Ena became very excited after he confirmed with him that he was committing, and for good reason, as the Utes coaching staff had placed a priority on landing the 3 star linebacker, which is a big need for the Utes going forward. “As far as I know the coaches want me to play outside linebacker, but a lot will depend on my size after my mission.”
Pilimai is yet another recruit that will serve an LDS mission prior to enrolling at Utah, and he says that it was something that he has always planned on doing. As for why Pilimai ultimately felt Utah was the best place for him, he had two very specific reasons. “The PAC 12 for sure was a huge draw to Utah. It’s been my dream to play in that conference, and I think Utah not only offers that, but also a great coaching staff as well.” Pilimai also got the opportunity to watch Utah’s historic win over Oregon, but said that ultimately wasn’t a huge factor in his decision, but definitely reinforced it. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Utah before, but I will admit that their success as a program and that win made the decision much easier.”
At the time of his commitment, Pilimai held offers from BYU, Oregon State, Utah State and Washington State, but said he was also receiving a lot of interest from USC, UCLA and Mississippi. Despite his commitment, Pilimai will still take other official visits, but said he is confident with his commitment to Utah.