Cougs vault to No. 1 for 'The Natural'

FIJI NATIVE and junior college offensive tackle Vaughn Lesuma was still on "this Cougar high" after he returned home Sunday evening from his official visit. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound offensive tackle said he was still on Cloud 9 after the visit, and that he has other visits scheduled, but if he had to decide today which one of his five offers he would choose, he'd go crimson.

"I am still caught up in this moment, I'm on this high, this Cougar high," said Lesuma, who came into the trip with Washington State and Oregon State as his co-leaders.

Lesuma said the academic presentation, atmosphere and the feeling he got from the Cougar players and coaches all exceeded expectations and mentioned the academics/major presentation of the visit as especially noteworthy. Junior college players sometimes have to be concerned about units transferring over to a school but Lesuma said when you understand something, it's no longer something to feel apprehensive about. He was hosted on his trip by OL Joe Eppele and DT Fevaea'i Ahmu.

"(Eppele and Ahmu) were good guys, and I liked how (WSU) took care of the 'business' first, because they really took the time to go over step by step on everything," said Lesuma.

"We went over the credits I'm taking right now and I saw how (they'd apply) to my major... and then I met with professors for these classes. I was impressed, very impressed that they went ahead and set that up. And then the college atmosphere, a small town and very family oriented, that a professor would come in on a Saturday and meet up with me, all of these things are plusses."

THE OFFICIAL VISIT was the second for Lesuma, who has only been playing football for two years and has five D-IA scholarship offers. He first tripped to Oregon State during Mount San Jacinto's bye week the first week in October.

"I thought Oregon State had raised the bar pretty high for a recruiting visit but Washington State was an experience I will never forget," said Lesuma. "I was very impressed. I fell in love with it, to be honest."

Lesuma was quick, however, to point out he remains open to Oregon State and others. He has has trips scheduled for Dec. 1 to New Mexico State and to San Diego State on Dec. 8. Recruiting and leaders lists can be a very fluid situation, but Washington State is at the top of Lesuma's list post-visit.

"I hope they don't think I'm ungrateful because I didn't verbally commit, but when I commit it's going to be 150 percent," said Lesuma. "I wanted to get myself out of the moment and really look at it again after some time had (passed).

"Washington State right now I would say is ahead. If I had to decide right now, I would definitely say Washington State...I just fell in love with the atmosphere at Washington State. I did at Oregon State, too, but at Washington State, I felt like I left knowing more, picturing myself (there) more because I knew more about them."

A NATURAL at the game of football, Lesuma has likely just scratched the surface on his potential. He never played the game until two years ago, first putting on helmet and pads in junior college. His footwork, strength and natural ability have thus far resulted in five D-IA offers.

Lesuma is on pace to graduate this term, meaning he could sign his LOI as soon as Dec. 20, enroll at a school in January and be available for spring ball.

"It will be interesting to talk to you a little down the road, when I've had a chance to step back and look at the big picture," said Lesuma.

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