Auelua talks about UW commitment

Recruiting can be a cruel business. The Washington Huskies learned the hard way when Honolulu St. Louis offensive lineman Paulay Asiata spurned UW for Colorado at the last minute in February. Kalei Auelua, Asiata's teammate during the Crusaders' 2010 state title run, wasn't about to put the Huskies through the recruiting ringer, as he verbally committed to UW Monday night.

Auelua called Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian around 7:30 PST. "First of all, I asked if they still had the offer out for me, and they told me yes," Auelua told "I told them I wanted to be a Dawg. They seemed pretty excited. It made me feel a little more wanted."

The 6-1.5, 232-pound defensive end had just returned from Seattle, where he attended Washington's Rising Stars camp. It was the first time he had seen both in living color. "I was clueless about it, actually. I didn't know anything about it," Auelua said about UW. "I went into it with an open mind. But talking to the coaches, that was going to be the place for me…like home away from home.

"When I went out there, I just liked it out there. I felt like I belonged. I felt like I have a good chance to play out there."

It wasn't always that way. Getting off the plane, Auelua quickly realized he wasn't in Hawai'i anymore. "First, it was freezing," he said with a chuckle. And it's a bigger city too. It's a lot different."

Getting to a hotel to warm up helped settle Auelua down. And when he saw Husky Stadium, the competitive juices really started to kick in.

"When I walked into that stadium, it was amazing," he said. "That really got me excited…and the coaches telling me that I probably have a good chance of playing in that game against LSU (in 2012)."

Auelua and his father Sai flew back home Sunday and started talking about a potential decision with his family. "They were all encouraging me to go there, because it's a good school," he said of Washington. Auelua also had scholarship offers from Boise State, Colorado, Hawai'i, UCLA, and Utah to consider.

Auelua has cousins that live in Seattle, and that played a part in his final decision. "When I get a little homesick, I can see them," he said. But the opportunity to compete immediately for playing time seemed to pique his interest more than anything else. It was easy to link the path Hauoli Jamora took and draw the same comparisons for Auelua.

"I haven't really seen him in games, but when the coaches first talked to me - when they first offered me - they were telling me that I reminded them a lot of Hauoli and the way he played," Auelua said. "They told me he started as a true freshman, and everything."

Auelua had 20 sacks as a junior for the Crusaders, and is blessed with many of the same physical gifts as Jamora; he recently bench-pressed 225 pounds 20 times, ran a 4.7 40, and jumped 30 inches in the vertical jump.

"I think I'm just quick off the ball," he said. "I have good hands. That's what we work on over here at St. Louis."

With his pledge revealed, Auelua said he won't be tempted by other teams coming in late with scholarship offers. "I'm pretty much committed to U-Dub," he said, adding that his commitment is '100 percent'. The only official visit he'll take is to Washington, and all things being equal he'd love to take that visit during the game week when the Huskies host Hawaii.

"I'm going to get to Seattle and do what I can to help the team improve and contribute," he said.

His future now sorted, Auelua can look to his senior year with a singular vision. "First of all, we have to win the state championship again over here," he said. "And mainly focus on school." He is currently taking summer school classes and will take the SAT in October.

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