11/05 Recruiting Wire - Vic So'oto

FOUR STAR tight end Vic So'oto is the complete package out on the edge -- catching, running, blocking. Cougfan.com talked to the Carlsbad star about his recruitment, his season and where WSU fits into the picture. And as we discovered, So'oto has done his homework -- the talented athlete knows his stuff when it comes to both the WSU program, and tight ends coach Robin Pflugrad.

Vic So'oto is the No. 1 tight end prospect in the West, and the 11th ranked overall TE in the nation. Washington State has offered and is among the schools recruiting the 6-4 220-pound athlete the hardest.

"I'd say Washington State, BYU, Utah, San Diego State has been recruiting pretty hard, and Arizona," said So'oto. "Those are the ones that are recruiting me the most."

So'oto has received offers from the Cougs as well as all the above schools. Additionally, he holds offers from Oregon State, UTEP and Wyoming.

Most schools, including Washington State, are looking at him at tight end. He's also been a solid defensive player for Carlsbad, with 80 tackles and three forced fumbles at 'backer his junior year.

After his football season comes to a close, So'oto has an official visit scheduled to Washington State on Dec 11. He will also trip to San Diego State the week previous, on Dec 3.

So'oto says he's open and all schools are even, but then went on to mention two who are slightly ahead of the rest. The Cougars are one of them. So is the other.

"They're pretty much all even and I'm still wide open on my decision. But if anyone was my favorite it would be BYU...and Washington State is at the top of the list too."

So'oto is Mormon and the pull of BYU is a strong one, especially for the So'oto family. Back in September, the 6-4 220-pound athlete said he was all but certain to play for BYU. But over the last month and a half, it's been the Cougars of Washington State who look to have made major inroads with the athlete and his family.

Any decision on when he would go on a mission has yet to be reached. "No, I'm still undecided about that." Off the field, of major import to in selecting a college will be to see how he's able to balance football and his religion at a school. The decision will also be a family one.

"No. 1 is my religion and my family. And how my family feels about a school will be (very important.) Just if there's a good balance there at that school - where I can (participate) in both and feel like I'm missing out on one or the other."

ON THE FOOTBALL SIDE, So'oto is looking at several factors.

"Of course, the type of offense they run. How many times their tight end touches the ball. And basically the relationship I have with the tight ends coach, because he's going to be someone I'm going to (be with) for four years, maybe even five. And the coaching staff, and their desire to win."

Speaking of the coaching staff, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad and offensive line coach George Yarno are handling the recruitment of So'oto.

"Oh, they're great. There's definitely a connection there between the Washington State coaches and me. And the fact that (Pflugrad) had Todd Heap as one of his tight ends (when coach Pflu was tight ends coach for ASU) is a big deal to me."

It's easy to see why. Heap, also Mormon, is a two-time Pro Bowl tight end for Baltimore. The former Pflugrad product was the Ravens' first round draft choice in 2001 and has been Baltimore's leading receiver the past two season. So'oto said coach Pflu as well as the recent success at Washington State will certainly factor into his decision.

"And WSU has been winning over the past few years, had those ten consecutive winning seasons...and their bowl games have just been something. I would really look forward to being part of that."

THIS SEASON, So'oto and Carlsbad are undefeated. Tonight, the No. 1 ranked Lancers (8-0) meet No. 2 Oceanside (7-1) in a game that will decide the Avocado league title. A large part of Carlsbad's success this season is due to the pass catching ability and the precision route running of So'oto.

Despite being double and even triple teamed at times, the tight end has been a tour de force this season, averaging over 22 yards a catch. On the year, he has 28 grabs for 622 yards and six touchdowns.

"And I love it when I'm double or triple-teamed because they don't expect you to be open. But getting open when you're double and triple teamed makes you that much better of a player."

It also opens up more on offense for Carlsbad, with linebackers and defensive backs keying on So'oto.

"In the beginning of the year, I was getting more passes but now towards the end of the year, I'm getting less passes thrown my way. But they're ending up for longer yardage."

A team captain, So'oto isn't just a pass catching difference maker. He likes contact. A lot.

"I like blocking as well. That's some real fun."

THERE COULD BE some real fun going on tonight. So'oto's cousin is Oceanside lineman and BYU verbal commit Russell Tialavea, the two are very close. But as is often the case on the football field between family members, that will probably only make them compete that much harder against one another.

Oceanside, the preseason No. 1, is on a seven game winning streak, coming off a big win over Vista.

It promises to be a great game. And it should be even more compelling to follow the recruitment of the big tight end over the next three months.


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