BREAKING: Mike Leach gets big DE from Samoa

HE STANDS 6-foot-4 and has athleticism coming out of his socks. He had a number of Pac-12 and big-time programs chasing hard after him this recruiting cycle. His visit to Washington State knocked him out -- but then another Pac-12 program turned his head. On Friday, the Cougars and Mike Leach came out on top and landed his verbal commitment.

Defensive end Destiny Vaeao (6-4, 260) has verbally committed to Washington State.

"Destiny chose Washington State this morning per his mother," Brandon Smart, the executive director of Field House 100, a non-profit organization in Samoa that works to help student-athletes realize their college dream, told CF.C.

VAEAO CHOSE WASHINGTON STATE over offers from Washington, Oregon State, Arizona and Colorado from the Pac-12, along with full rides from Tennessee, Hawaii and others.

Alabama was an early suitor, flying him out on an official visit for the first game this season and recruiting him strongly this recruiting cycle. ('Bama recruited Vaeao strongly for the next three months but eventually settled on a tight end closer to him, from Georgia.)

Vaeao tripped to WSU and was immediately in love with all things crimson. But then Oregon State was able to convince him to come on an official visit the next weekend and the Beavs turned his head for a time. But in the end, he circled on back to Washington State.

GIVEN HIS size and athleticism, he'll be a strong candidate to help Washington State immediately in his true freshman season, should Wazzu choose not to redshirt him.

He fits well into WSU's new 3-4 scheme and Smart said he would not be surprised in the least if Vaeao, after getting into WSU's weight program and training table, winds up in the 285-300 pound range over the course of his WSU career.

AMERICAN SAMOA has this recruiting cycle one of its best classes of football talent in years, says Smart, a man who has his finger on the pulse of the recruiting scene in The Islands. Vaeao is the headliner of the group and has NFL potential, says Smart, though he cautions it is early in his development cycle.

"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," Smart told CF.C earlier this week.

What helped seal the deal was Vaeao's strong bond with WSU area recruiter and future 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," says 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, when Vaeao will make it official to Wazzu

"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," says Smart.

JR SEASON video highlights of Vaeao can be found HERE.

Destiny Vaeao profile

Cougfan Top Stories