JUCO twins Suliasi & Sitiveni Tamaivena on Cougs, recruiting, Leach, Wilson & rugby

PACKAGE DEALS IN RECRUITING don't usually pan out in the end. But a pair of twins originally out of Kirkland plying their wares in junior college might be an exception. Defensemen Suliasi and Sitiveni Tamaivena from Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., have WSU offers and have something in common with Mike Leach. CF.C spoke with the brothers, here's what they had to say.

 Suli (6-1, 225) says Washington State offered he and Sitiveni (6-1, 230) mostly for one reason: hot pursuit.

"For me and my twin, we're looking for a team that fits with what we can do best -- basically blitzing and giving pressure to the quarterback," said Suli. "We can cover too, but we're best known for giving that pressure. They (WSU) love the pressure we give. They want to put one of us at D-end, and the other at outside linebacker."

The brothers lead the way in nearly every Mounties’ major defensive category through eight games: Suli has racked up 65 tackles, with 16 tackles for loss, seven sacks and a forced fumble. Siti has a cool 44 tackles (second on the team) with 10.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Both have taken unofficial visits to Washington State and ASU, and both say Pullman is definitely a place they would like to return for an official visit when the time comes this winter. WSU and UTEP have offered, with Oregon State, ASU and others in close contact.

The duo have always been inseparable on the football field but they almost didn't play football after graduating from Juanita High, instead taking two years to pursue a passion for rugby.  Of course, you know who else has a passion for rugby ...

"One thing I liked about Mike Leach, he was nice and he said he played rugby too. So we have a pretty good connection with that," said Siti.

Suli said the brothers met Leach briefly on their unofficial visit to WSU in the spring, and he seemed very excited about getting to know him better.

"He's a good man, smart man," said Suli. "I've always heard of him, when he was at Texas Tech though. He came up with that spread offense, mastered it. I always knew he was a good coach and always knew when he was coming in he was gonna change Wazzu around. We met (defensive coordinator Alex Grinch) while we were there too."

Ken Wilson is running the recruiting point for the Cougs.

"We've seen Wazzu, we like what they do." Suli said. "Another school we like is Oregon State, they picked up Utah's defensive coordinator so we've been watching them too. Right now it's mostly OSU and Wazzu. We talk to (Wilson) the most... OSU sends a lot of letters. Another thing we like, we've seen some of the stats for JUCO players on the team and we know they give JUCO players chances."

They’ve also been paying attention to the WSU program’s recent strides -- Siti seemed particularly excited by what WSU is doing this season.

"They've had Leach for a while,” said Siti. “I noticed he's picked up the program. That's one thing that I like is that the program's doing good. And now their switching up their defenses and schemes. It was pretty cool the way the coaches talked about the schemes when we were there. Sometimes they blitz and pressure, sometimes they cover.”

An important note to keep in mind: they were adamant in saying they want to let the season play out before they really get into their decision making process. If all went according to plan, they said they would play in their JUCO championship game on December 13 and then pursue the next step after that. It all depends on how long their season lasts.

Other family will also play into the decision. Suli just got married a couple weeks ago and now has a wife to consider in the transition. In WSU’s favor, the Kirkland pair would be moving back close to home.

A strong connection with mom could also be an important factor here, and they said she was the driving force in their return to the sport of football. But they also noted they’re open to playing anywhere.

After deciding to fully commit to football over rugby, they twins also decided they were going to stick together. Either of those factors could be why the pair isn’t being heavily recruited at this stage of the recruiting cycle. 

"Oregon State, UTEP, South Alabama and Utah always sends us mail,” said Siti. “Every school stands out to me, we just have to find one that fits me and Suli perfectly. I mostly talk with South Alabama coaches I think, so nobody stands out to me too much."

"Mostly coaches like the style of pressure that we bring, added Suli. “They like that we're explosive, fast and that we'll find our way to the ball. We play at outside linebacker but on certain downs we'll go down to d-end."

The month of December figures to be pivotal in deciding if the twins wind up signing with Washington State. The Cougs have made a strategy change in pushing out the overwhelming majority of their  official visits to after the season. Also in play: WSU, or any other school, can’t wait too long to get their guys on board when it comes to recruiting.

"We're just trying to finish off our season and then when it's time for recruiting, we'll get into that," said Siti.

"We're not looking for the ‘best’ school necessarily, we're looking for a team that fits our (style of play), what we can do best,” said Suli.

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