(Not So) Different World

Tevita Finau made his first-ever trip to the eastern part of the United States for the West Virginia-Louisville game, and what he found was a pleasant surprise.

If Finau's trip to West Virginia yielded a few surprises for him, his reaction to the visit would certainly come as a shock to those who might not find many similarities between the Mountain State and Hawaii.

"Going out there, I wasn't sure if I would like it. I didn't know if it would be too country," said the jovial and well-spoken Finau. "But it was more than I expected. The game and the people were all fantastic.

"This was my first trip that far east, and even though the weather was kind of cold, it really wasn't all that different from home. It kind of looked like Hawaii, with all the mountains and the green. It really felt like home to me."

While most people wouldn't draw comparisons between West Virginia and Hawaii, Finau mentioned them more than once, and seemed to have built a quick affinity for WVU.

"Everything was great," Finau said. "The people, the fans, the coaches – and just the whole program. Everything was just tremendous. I had a great time."

Finau and teammate Aki Vakalahi had a bit of a different start to their official visits, which began late on Wednesday night, as opposed to the typical Friday.

"We got in Wednesday about midnight, and then on Thursday we did the full tour," Finau said. "The coaches took us on a tour of the whole school. We saw the campus and toured all the facilities, and met with the players. That took us pretty much all the way right up to game time. We got to go in the locker room, then we checked out all the pre-game on the field.

"After the game, our host was Mortty Ivy, and he showed us around town and the places to hang out and go to. We had a great time."

Finau also had the chance to get a good bit of face time with the coaching staff, and the results of those meetings were just as impressive as the rest of his trip.

"All of the coaches were awesome," Finau said enthusiastically. "I got to talk with all of them, and we had a great visit. I got to talk with Coach Kirlav (defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich), and the rest of the defensive staff too."

The visit to West Virginia was Finau's first of his five officials. He has a second scheduled for Auburn, and plans to take all five before making his decision. He has several criteria that he will use to compare the schools he has under consideration.

"Right now I am comparing the schools, the coaches, and their personalities," Finau said. "The coaches are an important part of my decision. The location of the school also comes into play. I'll compare all of those things."

While the climate in West Virginia might not be similar to that which he has been accustomed to, it will not hurt WVU in its pursuit of the talented junior college lineman.

"No way is that a negative," Finau said with a laugh. "There are enough similarities that it looked a lot like home."

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