JUCO o-tackle's trip to WSU 'amazing'

THERE WERE A lot of firsts about Fou Fonoti's trip to the Palouse this past weekend. It was the first time on a plane for the offensive tackle prospect out of Cerritos College who holds two Pac-10 offers. It was his first official visit. And there was his first impression of Washington State o-line coach Steve Morton as well.

Morton looks to have made a positive impact on Fonoti (6-5, 295) during his official trip.

"Oh, wow. My first impression of him? It was very good…he knows what he's talking about," said Fonoti, who comes across on the phone as exceedingly polite, humble and enthusiastic. About the only time he sounds subdued is when his answer to a question might mean he'd have to list some of his own on-field accomplishments or skills.

"I'm just trying to work hard, just like everybody else," he says with a laugh.

Paul Wulff has made it a priority to recruit offensive linemen with athleticism, and Fonoti, whose first name is pronounced "Foe", certainly fits that description. He was around 310 pounds earlier but wanted to improve his speed and quickness – so he's leaned up.

"(WSU) said they like my athleticism and versatility, with me being as big as I am and around 300 pounds or so...I'm 6-5 but I've tried to slim down and get quicker, so I'm about 290 - 295 (pounds) right now, in between that range…I've just been running, trying to do a lot of stuff to turn fat into muscle and be lean," said Fonoti.

THERE ARE NO official stats for offensive linemen but Cerritos charts a number of categories – including pancakes, knockdowns, hurries allowed, pressures allowed, sacks allowed and a whole lot more. Fonoti said he doesn't keep track of all his numbers and grades, but that there are two lists in particular he keeps a close eye on.

"The most important thing I look at is my technique column and my effort column, that's really what matters most. I look at my grade on that, compare it to other weeks, and then just see what I need to work on most in order to get better," said Fonoti.

FONOTI'S TEAMMATE AT Cerritos, defensive end Eli Edwards, was offered by WSU during his trip and verbally committed to the Cougs on Sunday. Fonoti, however, said he wants to take things slow and that he didn't want to make a decision based on the emotion of seeing a teammate and close friend make his choice. Fonoti holds offers from WSU, Arizona, Houston, Florida International and New Mexico. And other schools like Michigan State are starting to ramp up the recruiting love.

"It was my first visit," said Fonoti. "And I wouldn't want to make a decision because of (emotion/Edwards' commitment). At the same time, don't get me wrong, the visit was amazing.

"But I want to stay (grounded), wait and see what happens and keep working hard in order to get better."

FONOTI SAID THERE was a lot to like about Washington State during his trip, including the college town feel.

"The community, the whole coaching staff, it was a tight family out there," said Fonoti. "All the coaches there are very dedicated to their players.

"Even the bus driver had on a Wazzu sweater. That struck me big time…I love the whole feeling of the family atmosphere. I felt comfortable and it was very, very good. I liked it a lot."

FONOTI SAID HE hasn't finalized any other visit dates yet. But visits to Arizona and Houston look to be in the cards. An article published this summer said Fonoti was an Arizona lean, but that wasn't the case.

"I remember thinking, 'Where did this come from,'" he said with a laugh. " I don't remember talking to anybody about that. And no disrespect to anybody or anything, but I have no favorites right now, recruiting is all new to me and I'm open to everything.

"And I have a lot of work to do, I'm not at the level I know I can be at…I still have a lot of room to be better."

FONOTI IS AIMING towards a December graduation date to receive his AA degree, which would allow him to enroll early and participate in spring ball at the next level. He has three to play two, having never redshirted. But a decision isn't likely to come for a while.

"I have no favorites, I still have a season to think about and No. 1 is school(work). I don't know what my (decision) timetable will be like," said Fonoti.

AS FOR THE GAME he saw this past weekend, a WSU loss to Oregon, he had a number of observations.

"To me, I felt Washington State won the first half," said Fonoti. "A lot of people were expecting the No. 1 team in the Pac-10 to come out and put up big numbers against Washington State but Washington State, they came out pretty physical. I was impressed.

"I know he had some yards but I feel like they kind of shut down LaMichael James, just from my perspective. There were just little mistakes they didn't capitalize on. But I felt the game, Washington State could have won it."

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