Cougs co-lead for No. 8 DT in nation

SIMI FILI, the No. 8 defensive tackle prospect in the nation says two schools have set themselves apart as the recruiting process enters the home stretch. The 6-4, 315 pound wrecking ball out of Salt Lake City's Cottonwood High also has firmly in mind when he will announce his decision on where he'll be spending the next four years of his life -- right down to the day, time and place.

Washington State and Oregon have risen to the top, Fili said.

"I really like both of those schools, they surpass the other schools that have been recruiting," he said. "There really aren't any other -- I really think it's going to be between those two."

Fili had two in-home visits last week on the same day from the head coaches of Washington State and Oregon. UO stopped in first, Washington State sat down in the Fili living room a short time later. D-coordinator Robb Akey, who is strongly influencing Fili's decision making process, accompanied Cougar head man Bill Doba for the in-home.

ON WASHINGTON STATE AND OREGON, Fili said one of the two does have a lead at this point, although he said it was a slight one.

"I'm looking at position coaches, I'm looking at the program and I tend to like both of them, Oregon and Washington State," said Fili. "And I think here in a little bit I'm going to have to determine which school I like more than the other. Oregon is standing a little bit ahead."

Fili said he was actually ready to make his decision between Washington State and Oregon a short time ago, but thinking about the Cougs' defensive coordinator gave him pause.

"You know, I was actually ready to commit to Oregon, but the coach at Wazzu, he just catches my eye. Coach Akey...I really like that coach. You wish you could just have this, this, this and this from a few different programs sometimes," he said with a laugh.

An official visit was scheduled for Oklahoma State this past weekend but a bad snowstorm in the state forced a cancellation. Fili said he isn't completely closing the door on the other schools, and that you never know what might happen tomorrow, but as it gets closer to decision time, distance from home is becoming a major consideration.

"I'm not sure if I'll reschedule (OSU), I'm getting ready to start eliminating now," said Fili. "And I was really pursuing ASU for a while but things didn't go right for them, so they're out and I'm really sad for what happened for (those coaches).

"When I was looking at my recruiting trips, I really just started to feel that I'd like to stay closer to home now -- the furthest away schools like Tennessee and Oklahoma State might, you know, just be eliminated because of that...the Pac-10 and the West (are closer)."

FILI SAID what he likes most about Oregon is that they have some Polynesian players on their roster he felt he would bond with, he feels a strong connection with the Duck coaching staff, and that UO "really needs me for this next year."

"And it's the same thing with Washington State -- but then I also just felt really at home with Oregon," said Fili. "Talking with the Oregon coaches, I can see they really need me for this upcoming year, and maybe more than Washington State does."

Asked about the question of playing time as a true freshman, Fili laughed when he answered but he was also dead serious -- whichever school he ends up signing his Letter of Intent with on Feb. 7, he fully expects to be on the field his first year.

"Redshirt? No, no. That's for people that are hurt," he chuckled. "Oregon is telling me that (that I'll play my first year) more than is WSU."

I've talked to a lot of people who have made this decision and they all tell me you have to just go with your gut feeling.

FILI WILL BE participating in the prestigious US Army All-America Bowl on Jan. 6 in San Antonio. With his preparation already ongoing, and then the bowl practices down in Texas prior to the game, he said he might not be scheduling any more official visits.

"A lot of other schools are asking, 'Are you going to schedule a trip here in January?' and I'm like, 'Sorry I'm going to have to tell you no, I'm going to be at that game.' And that's where I'm going to announce my decision, I really want to announce during that game. I'm just going to do it nationally and do it on TV."

Simi Fili profile and video

NOTABLE NOTE: Fili is scheduled to have No. 2 pencil in hand and take the ACT this weekend.


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