A natural, JC hoss tripping to Pullman

TWO YEARS AGO, just before Fiji native Vaughn Lesuma got into his first three-point stance, he couldn't have envisioned the situation he finds himself in today -- holding scholarship offers from Washington State and four other schools. "Excited," is the operative word to describe the 6-5, 330-pound offensive tackle as he prepares for his official visit to WSU for Apple Cup weekend.

Lesuma was in Corvallis on an official visit when Washington State came to town the first week of October. Cougar offensive line coach George Yarno had already been in contact prior, and it wasn't too long after the win over Oregon State that the Cougs offered and set up the visit. Lesuma has had the date circled on his calendar ever since.

"Very lucky. It will be a great experience, to experience the atmosphere of the Washington State Cougars," said Lesuma, who comes across as down to earth and thoughtful. "I'm looking forward to seeing the team spirit, I know I'm going to go see a bunch of warriors, so to speak. And that's what I'm looking for, a team that doesn't give up when their back is up against the wall."

Some questions about WSU have already been answered for Lesuma, who has 2-to-play-2. Some that remain are ones he said he won't have to ask about to receive the answers.

"It's pretty much not so much verbal questions but just the feel, the atmosphere of the place," he said. "A lot of the questions I have will be self explanatory, how family oriented the community is there, if it will be a comfortable place to hang my hat up for the next two years."

Lesuma, out of Mount San Jacinto College located equidistant between L.A. and San Diego, said he doesn't anticipate a decision any time soon with a pair of visits scheduled following this weekend's trip. In addition to WSU and OSU, Lesuma holds offers from Iowa State, New Mexico State and San Diego State, who just offered this week. After Apple Cup weekend, Lesuma has trips scheduled for Dec. 1 to New Mexico State and to San Diego State on Dec. 8.

WASHINGTON STATE AND OREGON STATE remain at the top of his list, said Lesuma, in part because he's already visited Oregon State and that the last couple weeks he has been anticipating his visit to Pullman.

"Right now with Oregon State, I've got a lot of love for Oregon State as well. It's probably going to be the toughest decision of my life. I know that after this weekend, because of the hype of how excited I am to go visit Washington State, it's going to be...heads one place, tails the other place in terms of respect and what I think of each program," he said.

Lesuma said the other schools he has not yet visited also have their drawing points.

"With New Mexico State and San Diego State, they're not in as high a division as the other two but at the same time..San Diego State is just down the road from me and that's a big plus," said Lesuma. "New Mexico State, there's a lot of friends that go there that I grew up with."

Lesuma comes from a very tight knit family -- some are in Hawaii, some are close by. In California, besides uncle Elliot Lobendahn and his brother Reed Lesuma, a 6-foot-4, 300 pound freshman at Mt. San Jacinto, cousin Carlton Washington, who played at Mount San Jacinto and Northern Arizona, will all be asked for their counsel.

"A big part of it will come down to what they also believe is best for me," said Lesuma.

THE LAST MONTH or so has been a whirlwind for Lesuma, with college coaches calling and text messaging. He's enjoyed every minute of it.

"It's been pretty busy, but again, I'm really blessed to be in this position but at the same time, it's going to be one of the toughest decisions of my entire life," he said. Lesuma never played high school football, instead playing rugby while in Fiji. Coming over to the states, he spent a year at Snow College in Utah for one season before transferring to Mt. San Jacinto. A natural at the game, the light bulb turned on and burned brightly this season, as the game slowed down and he wowed colleges with his footwork, strength and natural ability. He still considers himself raw, but improving, with the difference between his first and second year significant.

"I'm very, very lucky and fortunate to be in the position I'm in right now," he said.

He's also earned it.

Vaughn Lesuma profile

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