Tagoai Getting it Done On and Off the Field

Roaming the defensive secondary for Palomar this fall will be one of the better safety prospects in the Mission Conference, Willie Tagoai. At 6-3, 205, he is extremely effective at run support but also possesses the speed to stay with receivers.

Tagoai is a graduate of Vista High School in southern California. As a prep he lined up at both tailback and linebacker, earning first-team All-League Defense honors after his senior season. He was no slouch as a tailback either, and in fact still holds the school record for the longest run from scrimmage (99 yards) versus Mt. Carmel.

Academics got in the way of scholarship offers from a number of Pac-10 programs as well as Colorado. Most schools were looking at him as a safety or linebacker.

The four-year programs' loss is quite often a community college's gain and in this case it was Palomar College.

"I chose Palomar because I heard that it was a good school to go to in order to get recruited," said the soft-spoken Tagoai who is entering his second season with the Comets.

Although Tagoai did not start every game, he did make his presence felt in several games. Midway through last season he had earned a starting safety spot and maintained it through the California State Championship game versus CCSF.

"Versus Saddleback I had two picks and a big hit. And versus Mt. SAC I ran a pick back for a TD. My most tackles in a game was 11 against El Camino," said Tagoai.

Tagoai is penciled in to start at safety as summer drills are beginning. It would be hard to keep him off the field given his excellent combination of size, speed, and athleticism. At the JCFootball.com SoCal Combine, which was held May 4 at Santa Ana College, Tagoai was measured at 6-2 3/4 and 197 pounds. He ran a nice 4.3 shuttle and vertical jumped about 32 inches. We didn't test it at the combine, but he claims a squat of 415 pounds too.

"My speed is on strength. I can cover guys and on the run I can come in and hit guys. Then my height and vertical abilities help. I really play hard and I never give up until the whistle blows," said Tagoai.

It's no surprise that Tagoai has a stack of mail from four-year schools. In addition to his athletic abilities he also performs well in the classroom where he has earned a 3.0 GPA. A December graduate date looms, which isn't lost on coaches with programs such as UNLV (seeking a JC safety; will probably offer a trip), Colorado, USC, and Illinois.

Tagoai told us to keep an eye on Palomar wide receiver, Eddie Sullivan (6-1, 180), as well as linebacker Mike Tinoisamoa (6-1, 235; brother Pisa is a standout at U. of Hawaii). Of course, those are just two of the many Palomar guys to keep an eye on as the 2002 season approaches.

Look for a full preview of the Palomar team before the end of July.

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