Similar Styles

With their familiarity with the state of Utah and understanding the Mormon religion. Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen and defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a have made a favorable impression on Salt Lake City Highland defensive lineman Pita Tonga

Wisconsin has taken an affinity to recruiting the Polynesian community and Coach Chad Kauha'aha'a has been all over the West Coast trying to locate that next diamond in the rough. He might have found him in Salt Lake City Highland defensive end Pita Tonga, who is getting high interest from Wisconsin.

"Coach Chad Kauha'aha'a is my recruiter from Wisconsin and he is the one who has been talking to me," Tonga told Badger Nation. "He has told me about the facilities and told me to check it out. He came down on a recruiting trip like two weeks ago, so that was real cool … Coach Chad is very much pursuing me and he said that I am high on their list of recruits right now, but he couldn't say too much because it is against NCAA rules."

While his conversation with Kauha'aha'a was brief and he is still learning about the facilities and opportunities that the University of Wisconsin presents, Tonga is already sold on Kauha'aha'a and head coach Gary Andersen because both men are not afraid to bring in kids that want to go on church missions following their completion of high school.

"The main thing that I like about Wisconsin is that Coach Andersen and Coach Chad are from Utah, so they understand the Mormon religion," Tonga said. "We have to go on missions for two years and I grew up from the church, so I know they understand how important it is for us to go on our missions. They hold your scholarship, so you can come back and play football for them. I also like how Coach Chad coaches the defensive line, which is where I want to play when I get to college. They both have proven they can coach."

The 6-2, 275-pound defensive lineman knows going up against four-star Michigan verbal commitment Bryan Mone - the No. 7 defensive tackle in the nation by Fox Sports Next - has pushed him to compete at a higher level, which resulted in him earning an All-Region selection last season with 40 tackles and three sacks.

"I honestly think I have a great advantage getting to go against Bryan every day in practice," said Tonga. "It has really helped me improved since he is a top defensive lineman in the nation. Offensively he is very good as well. I play defensive end and defensive tackle, but I think I will be a defensive tackle in college. I am not the huge pass rusher, but I am a strong guy that uses my hands a lot to separate from linemen. I use my hands to create separation rather than use speed coming off the edge."

While his recruitment has picked up steam and is hearing from some of the top powerhouses in college football, Tonga has two teams currently at the top.

"Wisconsin and Utah are my two schools that I think about the most going to," he said. "I also been talking to USC, Oregon, Oklahoma and Michigan. I am not cleared through the NCAA eligibility center yet, so I am waiting to be cleared through that first. Once that gets done, then the offers will hopefully come in.

"I would have to say Wisconsin and Utah are my top two. Both of them I really like. I am also very open to leaving the state. I really like to wait on my decision, but I will make my decision before I take my mission. I will definitely be committing before that time comes. It is something that I have talked with my parents and I will be looking for what the best option is for me."

There are many reasons and factors recruits look at when making their college commitment. For Tonga, his main factor is finding a team where players play for each other.

"I think what is really important is the chemistry on the team," Tonga said. "If I have an issue with the players, it doesn't matter how good we are because our chemistry is not good. The team is not going to be good team. You need more than one player to win a football game."

"I plan on taking a trip to Wisconsin. I am looking to see what classes are good at Wisconsin and what type of majors they have up there, so I look forward to learning some things. I definitely love the Wisconsin environment. I think they have a beautiful campus and would love the opportunity to play there."


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