The latest on Coug target 3-star DE Maloata

ONE THING at least seems clear when it comes to three-star defensive end Austin Maloata's recruitment – he's no longer headed to Southern Cal. But as for where he might end up, that's where things are just about as clear as mud. CF.C asked Maloata about all of that and more...

Maloata (6-3, 248) out of Corona, Calif. comes across as exceedingly polite and humble over the phone. Some uncommitted prospects with just a few weeks to go before Signing Day know where they'll be going but want to play it coy all the way to the end. I didn't get the feeling that was the case in the slightest with the Centennial High product, but the end result – an announcement made right around or on Letter of Intent Day – might be the same.

"I'm open to any school," Maloata mentioned more than once during our conversation. In reading between the lines, what I took away was there are three schools most in the mix at this stage. In no particular order, they are: Washington State, Arizona State and UCLA.

"They're all real good schools," said Maloata of the trio.

"Washington State isn't one of the biggest schools in the nation but I have to take my hat off to Coach Joe. He's up there and trying to make a name for the team… It was a good experience at Washington State with Coach Joe, the facilities and the weight room there. With ASU, they were with me from the start. They're still there and they never lost contact with me. And UCLA I think it's a great school. As of now, I'm willing to take any school under consideration. I'll be making my choice on Signing Day."

THE TRIGGER FOR that decision, the deciding factor, is likely to come from his family, Maloata said.

"It's always family first and God first and probably sometime… next week or the week after, we'll have a family meeting. I'll talk to my family and we'll see where I might best fit in," said Maloata.

WASHINGTON STATE WILL be in Maloata's living room this week, probably on Thursday night, he said. ASU is also scheduled to come back late in the week, he added.

Maloata said he has one visit set up, to ASU on the 31st, though more could be scheduled in the coming days.

MALOATA TOOK PART in the Polynesian All American Bowl on Saturday. The head coach for Maloata's team was CouGreat Jack Thompson.

"It was great, honestly the best experience I had with football all year, being with all my Samoan and Polynesian brothers… it was a great experience meeting Jack Thompson, getting to know a little about his history in getting drafted in the first round, that was all good," said Maloata.

MALOATA HAD PREVIOUSLY verbally committed to USC but after the coaching change, USC didn't touch base with him for nearly a month and a half. Maloata was finally able to speak with one of the assistants recently and the upshot was that they parted ways this weekend.

Despite the communication breakdown on the USC end, Maloata said he was simply honored to be considered in the first place.

"I'm just really thankful, and I'm just moving on with life and I actually believe God has a way of making things happen for a reason. So he'll close one window and open another one. So I'll take my talent to another Pac-12 school, or (to) another university to (where) I'll showcase my talents," said Maloata.

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