Lagafuaina Has His Priorities In Order

Mt. San Antonio LB Elijah Lagafuaina (6-1, 240) is one of the top JUCO tacklers still available this year and his story is a bit inspiring as he's gone from a young man who didn't take his academics seriously to a prospect who has a laser focus, both in the classroom as well as the football field...

Lagafuaina prepped at Mililani (Hi.) High School. He enjoyed a solid career, but was unable to qualify, so he wound up heading to the lower 48 to continue his football career, but along the way he had to find out who he was and what he wanted to do with his life.

"I got homesick and just didn't focus on the things I needed to focus on," Lagafuaina admitted to recently. "I was partying, I was only doing enough to stay eligible and then when the season was over, I didn't wake up for classes and all that stuff.

"I just wasn't mature enough to handle the situation I put myself in and so I left and went back home to Hawaii and I even started doing some MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) stuff. I played football in 2011 and then I had to take a redshirt in 2012 due to my academics, but then in the spring last year, I saw my friends all going through spring ball and I realized how much I missed football and something just clicked in me and I figured out that I couldn't keep going on like this so that got me focused."

After taking some classes at a junior college in Washington State, Lagafuaina re-enrolled at Mt. San Antonio and hasn't looked back.

"Things are much better for me academically," Lagafuaina noted. "I haven't gotten below a 3.0 since I got back and football has really been great too."

As a sophomore leader on one of the top teams in southern California last fall, leading the team in tackles with 63 while also posting two sacks, 9.5 tackles-for-loss and eight pass breakups.

"I think what I do best is my pass coverage," Lagafuaina said. "I'm quick for a guy my size and my coaches used me as an outside linebacker and inside linebacker.

"This past year I really worked on my Football I.Q. I watched a lot of tape on the other team's offense looked for their tendencies. Left tackle to right tackle tendencies, quarterback tendencies and progressions and other stuff like the running backs and receivers."

On the recruiting front, Lagafuaina had been hearing from schools like Florida International and Portland State, but their interest fell off when they found out he wasn't a mid-year prospect.

"Right now, the main school talking to me is Northern Arizona," Lagafuaina noted. "I'm open to anyone and I think I can really help a school that wants me to come in and play. I just need to find someone that needs a linebacker like me. If they do offer me though, they will get a player that will not be outworked and I've matured a lot from where I was a year ago."

Lagafuaina will finish up his two-year degree in May and he will have two years to play two starting this fall.

Elijah Lagafuaina Scout Profile

JC Football Top Stories