Cougs in recruiting battle royale for TE/DE

AMONG THE PRIZES still remaining to be claimed in the 2012 recruiting class is a highly sought, 6-4, 260-pounder who hails from American Samoa. He has double-digit offers, including four from Pac-12 schools. And the Cougs are way up high on the list.

Destiny Vaeao out of Tafuna High, quietly tripped to Washington State earlier this month. With a week to go before Signing Day, he looks to be deciding between the Cougars and the Beavers.

American Samoa has one of its best classes of football talent in years, says Brandon Smart, the executive director of Field House 100, a non-profit organization in Samoa that works to help student-athletes go on to college. He has his finger on the pulse of the recruiting scene. And Vaeao is the headliner.

"We have six guys in the NFL currently from Samoa, and this is a lot of projecting obviously, but this guy fits the mold of those guys, with the size and athletic ability. He has that kind of potential," said Smart.

Alabama was an early suitor. In addition to Washington State and Oregon State, Washington and Colorado also offered from the Pac-12.

"Alabama tripped him out the first game of the year. They eventually took a guy from Georgia, closer to home but for three months he was talking on the phone with Nick Saban. Tennessee was trying to get him to trip out. He's visited Washington, Washington State and Oregon State. He loved his trip to Washington State. And then the next weekend, he really enjoyed his visit at Oregon State," said Smart.

WHAT IT LOOKS likely to come down to is this, said Smart: Oregon State likes him at tight end, and that's his preferred position (although it's not a deal breaker). Washington State likes him at defensive end, and Vaeao has forged a particularly strong bond with WSU area recruiter and d-line coach Joe Sa'alevea.

"He has a great relationship with Coach Sa'alevea. Out here, to be playing for a coach a lot of these guys grew up watching in Joe Salave'a – they all know him because they all watched him play on Sundays in the NFL," said Smart.

VAEAO IS CURRENTLY in Texas, participating in USA Football's International Bowl, (formerly known as the Team USA vs. The World). The Feb. 1 game coincides with National Signing Day, and most of the players including Vaeao are expected to announce their decision then.

"He's the most athletic big man in the last 5-6 years from here, by far the most impressive kid coming out of The islands," said Smart.

Video highlights of Vaeao can be found HERE.

Destiny Vaeao profile

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