'The Natural' drawing interest from WSU

BECAUSE THE OL POSITION is a hard one to master, and it takes time to become part of a cohesive unit, JUCO prospects sometimes have a longer path to success at the D-IA level. Fiji native Vaughn Lesuma (6-5, 340), however, is drawing significant interest from Washington State and others because 1) he moves very well for his size and 2) he's a natural, having never played football in high school.

Washington State has two senior starters on the offensive line in RT Charles Harris and LG Sean O'Connor. One of the oldest axioms in the game of football is also that a team can never have enough offensive linemen, and the Cougs, for a time stretched thin earlier this season by injuries up front, could make the position one of the priorities for the '07 class.

Lesuma does not hold a Cougar offer, but said Washington State is one of the teams showing him "significant interest." The Mt. San Jacinto College hoss was in Corvallis this past weekend on an official visit and took in the Cougars' win over the Beavers.

"I would be excited to take a trip up there," said Lesuma of Washington State.

Lesuma said he most recently talked to WSU offensive line coach George Yarno last week, and the Mt. San Jacinto coaching staff has told the lineman that Cougar head man Bill Doba has called asking about him.

"He's a great man," said Lesuma of Yarno.

LESUMA IS A natural, having likely just scratched the surface on his potential -- he never played the game of football until two years ago, first getting into a three point stance in junior college.

Lesuma said the OSU visit couldn't have gone much better and that the Beavs lead, but was quick to add that's also primarily due to OSU being the only school he's been able to visit. Future trips will almost certainly have to come after the season with the next stretch of Saturdays all game days at Mt. San Jacinto, located equidistant between L.A. and San Diego.

"It went very well, I enjoyed it very much," said Lesuma. "I was raised in a lot of small towns. I went to Corvallis and it was another small town -- I totally felt at home. Everyone is family oriented which is a huge thing for me. I told the coach it's everything that I need, as a student and as a player, it's here."

Still, Lesuma said he isn't close to making a decision, wanting to look at the benefits of other programs, and hopefully take some more post-season official visits to ensure he's making an informed choice.

LESUMA HOLDS OFFERS from Oregon State and New Mexico State, but said a number of other programs are showing him significant attention in addition to Washington State -- such as Arizona State, Florida, BYU, UCLA, Nevada and Wyoming. Schools are split on whether they see him as guard or tackle.

Thoughtful and mature, Lesuma didn't offer one of the answers usually heard when asked for some of the OSU visit highlights.

"What I saw of them as a team," said Lesuma. "My decision of where I want to be will (be based) on academics... and if the place will help me become a better man, a better person, in addition to football. I really liked what I saw there. They unfortunately lost but they didn't throw in the towel as some people might have believed they would. And that's how I see myself, as someone who won't give up."

IF NOT FOR his uncle here in the States, Elliot Lobendahn, and the support of his family in Hawaii, Lesuma said he wouldn't be where he is today, on the cusp of a full ride scholarship and big time college football. An excellent student, Lesuma is on pace to receive his AA degree in December and eligible for a mid-year transfer and a school's spring ball. He has two-to-play-two at the next level.

"Wherever I go, it's not just going to be about football for me -- no schools are ruled out," said Lesuma. "Where I go will be about where I can become a better person. Football is what I do, it's not who I am. And when I do something, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. These are exciting times."

Vaughn Lesuma profile

  • Lesuma said also on official visits to Oregon State with him this weekend were Una Smiley and Jon Ioane. Lesuma said as far he knew, neither made a verbal commitment while in Corvallis.

  • Keep an eye out for Vaughn's brother and teammate at Mt. San Jacinto, Reed Lesuma. At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, the o-lineman is already drawing interest from schools for the class of 2008.

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