By Andrew Gorringe
One of the more impressive pick up for the Utes in the 2016 recruiting cycle was one that largely flew under the radar, as this player wasn’t very active on social media and we didn’t hear much about his recruitment until he had made his commitment. That player is defensive end Semisi Lauaki out of Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, CA. Lauaki picked up early offers from Utah, Boise State, San Diego State and Nevada, but wound up committing to the Utes in early October over those other suitors. It wasn’t till after his commitment though that Lauaki’s recruitment became interesting. Close to a month after his commitment, USC came through Leuzinger HS and offered the talented defensive end. Most thought USC would have the inside track at Lauaki, and in addition, the UCLA Bruins picked up their interest in Lauaki. The Bruins never offered despite their interest level, and after months of consideration, Lauaki spurned the Trojans to remain committed to Utah.
Lauaki has all the things that the Utah coaching staff looks for in a premier defensive end; size, speed, quickness and strength. Lauaki right now is 6’4-240lbs, but has the quickness of a linebacker. He does a great job of shedding offensive linemen, but also has the strength to bull rush opposing blockers. Lauaki played multiple positions for Leuzinger through out his career, including tight end, linebacker and offensive tackle, which is a testament of his great athleticism.
Lauaki is one of six 2016 recruits to sign with Utah that will serve an LDS mission prior to his enrollment at Utah. When he returns though in 2018, look for Lauaki to wind up closer to 270lbs when he steps on the field for the Utes. His size, athleticism and versatility reminds us of former Ute defensive end Jason Fanaika. It may take him a year to re-acclimate to the game of football after his LDS mission, but look for Lauaki to contribute sooner rather than later when he finally steps foot on campus.