RECRUITING: Ahmu has Washington State in top 5

FOUR-STAR PROSPECT <b>Fevaea'i Ahmu</b> talked with Cougfan.com about how his recruiting is shaping up, what will influence the defensive tackle's decision in choosing a college and just how his team has become the talk of San Diego with a remarkable turnaround this year.

Fevaea'i Ahmu, a 6-1.5, 285-pound terror on the defensive line, is seeing a lot of recruiting love coming his way these days. Washington State is one of the schools recruiting him the hardest.

"Right now, Washington State is on me pretty strong," said Fevaea'i, who goes by "Ah-E" for convenience. "Arizona, SDSU, Colorado is on me -- I'm getting calls from a lot of schools, Oregon, USC calls me (regularly), UCLA too."

Ahmu took his first official visit to Arizona and its safe to say he came away impressed with the Wildcat program. Other trips scheduled include Colorado on Nov 13, Washington State on Nov 20, San Diego State on Dec 3 with Oregon likely being his fifth and final visit. Ahmu confirmed that these schools make up his Top five.

The Apple Cup will be the second time Ahmu has seen the Cougs in person this year, his being his official visit to Arizona back on Sep. 25.

Washington State's facilities and location are certainly something that appeals to Ahmu. But Arizona made a very solid impression on the nose guard during his visit.

"Washington State, I know its a small town. Everything really revolves around the school, the community. Its away from -- its distraction-free. They've got a new weight room there and the coaches seem real cool, coach (Bill) Doba and coach (George) Yarno and all them."

"I think I'd feel comfortable over there, I think I'd just like to see the team in person, how it is. But I had a good experience at Arizona."

AWAY FROM THE GRIDIRON, what's important to Ahmu is an environment where he'd feel comfortable. Education is also of the utmost importance. A team captain for two years, Ahmu is a unique student-athlete, interested in a field not tackled by many football players.

"I'd probably be looking for - well, just a city where I'd feel comfortable. It doesn't really matter, big city, small city. Education wise, I wanted to do something in the medical field."

"Earlier, I was looking towards Radiology but I went to Arizona and they told me its about a 12 year curriculum -- so 12 years is pretty long," Ahmu laughed. "X-Ray tech is a little less," he said, going on to explain he's also very interested in the areas of sports medicine and sports training.

ON THE FOOTBALL SIDE of things, Ahmu has a number of things he's looking for in a program.

"I look for a weight program, the weight room. And the defense they run and what the coaches are like that run it -- Just how the coaches coach. What their attitude is during the game."

"And basically, the overall atmosphere of how the football program is run."

ENGAGING, HUMBLE, quick with a laugh, a leader by example -- all of these describe Ahmu's personality off the field.

On the field, he's a wrecking ball.

But to begin this season, Ahmu's effectiveness was blunted by forces beyond his control. Serra suffered some key injuries, including the starting d-tackle next to Ahmu.

They also lost four of their best players for disciplinary reasons. (Two players were in a car last Spring when another passenger shot a BB gun out of the window. Two others were also involved in separate incidents this past Spring.) After the school disciplined the players, Serra coach Brian Basteyns increased the penalties this fall, sitting the players for the first four games.

On the field, the result was opponents were able to better run away from Ahmu. And they hammered Serra, sending the Conquistadors reeling to an 0-4 start.

"We weren't playing together," said Ahmu of the first part of the season.

But when the team returned to full strength, Serra (5-4) did some dominating of their own. Especially on defense, where Ahmu now had some backside support.

"We went from averaging (on defense) giving up over 40 points a game to less than seven."

Teams are still trying to run away from Ahmu but they're having much less success. Ahmu is lining up in different spots and making more plays than ever, with over 70 tackles on the year and nine quarterback sacks. With junior DT Chris Adkins' (one to watch in 2005) return from injury, Ahmu has been wreaking havoc at the point of attack.

"I have to move around a lot. Teams like to run away from me, they were doing that a lot too during the early part of the season...I've got a little back up on the d-line now, our d-line is really coming together. The linebackers are making great reads. We're better learning the game plan and executing it now."

Ahmu is also quick to stress the coaching staff's contribution in Serra's turnaround.

"They're teaching us more things every day. They're coaching us up pretty good now."

Ahmu has very good speed and is very athletic, with designs on playing basketball this season for Serra. The 6-1.5 Ahmu played around 300 pounds last season, turning in a monster year as a junior. He wasn't satisfied, choosing to get lighter in an effort to further improve his overall speed and burst off the line. Worse for opponents, Ahmu is a smart player, using his considerable wingspan to his advantage and making plays mentally, not just physically.

"I get off the ball very fast. I use my arms well, I have pretty long arms for my height and I'm able to kind of bench press--I'm able to keep my distance from offensive linemen. So as I hit the lineman, I'm reading the play...When an offensive lineman takes a step or first starts to pull, I know what to do. I see plays develop, I see the blocks before they occur. And I take good angles, good pursuit angles."

"A lot of people will say I hustle a lot, they see aggressiveness in me and what not. I like running. I like running, taking the right angles and trying to get him before he hits that cutback. I think I'm a coachable player too."

Last Friday, Ahmu and Serra shut out Hoover, 6-0, setting up the game with Mission Bay that will decide the Western League title. After the 0-4 start, their stated goal of winning the Western League championship looked unattainable. Now 4-0 in league play, Ahmu and his team's goal is within their grasp.


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