Vanderbilt looks to the islands

Vanderbilt is making a strong push to land Rex Manu, one of Hawaii's best players from the island of Oahu. The 6-foot-3, 298-pound defensive lineman has been heavily pursued by Pac-12 schools but it's Vanderbilt that has emerged as the lone SEC school to land one of Manu's five official visits. He spoke with VandyMania.com to talk recruiting.

"I'd have to say Oregon is number one right now," Manu said, "but, yes, I am still talking to Vandy. In fact I'm currently planning an official visit down there. The recruiting coach and I were thinking maybe early January would work out best for me to visit. My recruiter, Frank Maile, is also the D-line coach. He said he likes the way I play with my physical ability and strength. Plus, he told me that he's trying to get more Polynesian players in the SEC.

"The school has my interest just because I've heard from a lot of friends and family that Vanderbilt is extremely prestigious and, from talking to my recruiter, it seems pretty down to earth."

Manu plays at Mililani High School, just 20 miles north of Honolulu. The Trojans are currently 11-0 and ranked number two in the state. The school won their second consecutive Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I football title Friday, October 31st, at Aloha Stadium with a win over Kahuku. Now they'll begin the Division I playoffs in hopes of making up for a loss in the state finals in 2013.

"I think we do have a good chance to win state," said Manu. "I don't have any solid stats to tell you, but I'm having a good year. The thing I'm enjoying most about it is preparing the younger kids for next season to carry the team to the playoffs."

Vanderbilt's main competition for Manu will come from Oregon, Washington, Washington State, and Colorado. Although he has Pac-12 roots, Manu says he's looking at more than just a conference when making his college decision.

"All of my family has attended Utah, but that's probably not where I'm going to go myself," he said. "Education, great staff and coaches, player chemistry, and I want the general population to be easy to gel with. That's what I want to see when I go on my official visits."

Manu was still committed to Stanford when Vanderbilt extended their offer in early May. After watching the Oregon- Michigan State game on September 5th Manu made the decision to reopen is recruitment. The Commodore coaches have pursued many of the top Hawaiian players in this year's recruiting cycle. They were in on Canton Kaumatule of Punahou who committed to Oregon on October 31st, but are still in pursuit of his teammate, offensive line Semisi Uluave.

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