Aumua's journey to Pullman almost complete

SIGNING DAY WAS more than a week ago but defensive end Niko Aumua – who led the California junior college ranks with 25 tackles-for-loss this past season – still doesn't have that LOI check-mark next to his name on the commit list. What's the story, and when will the Pride of Alameda start being referred to as "new Cougar" rather than "future Cougar?" We went to the 6-6, 225-pounder for answers.

Aumua, who captured his conference's defensive MVP award in 2010, tells CF.C he'll be a Cougar soon. Very soon.

Aumua said he expects to finally be signed, sealed and delivered to Washington State later this week. He plans to complete his AA degree this spring, and move to Pullman this summer.

"I was just late registering for my Clearinghouse, I just didn't realize everything I needed to do with all that," he said. "And I know a lot of people probably thought I was backing out or changing my mind or something but it's nothing like that. I just didn't know what all I had to do."

Aumua said he expects to receive the Letter of Intent in the mail this week, it's something a school can't even send out until a JC athlete's Clearinghouse requirements are in order, and then sign and send it back same-day.

"Oh, I'll sign it immediately and send it to them. I can't wait to get up there to Washington State, I'm definitely looking forward to it," said Aumua.

IT'S BEEN A long and winding road for Aumua to the Pac-12. He was star receiver at Alameda High but lost his way in the classroom and wound up going to a continuation school to get his high school diploma. At that point, he was not only off the radar of college recruiters but damn near off the planet. He considered going to powerhouse City College of San Francisco but that idea withered and he sat out what would have been his freshman year of college.

His life was going nowhere, he says, until his cousin Marcelo, playing ball at Contra Costa, convinced Aumua to join him there.

And then the head coach at Contra Costa, Alonzo Carter, suggested a most shocking move for a youngster whose entire background was all about making big plays on offense.

Move to defensive end. With his frame and agility, it made sense.

Aumua was hesitant and first, but positive feedback early on from Pac-10 and WAC recruiters fueled his enthusiasm and he attacked the weight room. He's put on 35 pounds over the last two years.

In 2010, Aumua was a force on the field, posting the state leading 25 TFLs, including 12 sacks, (which tied for tops in the state.) He will have three years to play two at Washington State.

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