November 25, 2007

Four-star JC prospect recaps visit to CU

Tevita Finau was unable to travel back to Hawaii to spend Thanksgiving with his family, so he decided to visit the University of Colorado instead.

"Coach Brian Cabral thought it would be good if I flew out there and had Thanksgiving with them," said the 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive lineman from Phoenix (Ariz.) College. "The trip was awesome.

"I am pretty close with the two Polynesian coaches on the staff, Coach Cabral and Donnell Leomiti. And they have four or five Poly boys on their team right now. I am pretty close with most of them. B.J. Beatty, who I played with in high school, was my host.

"When I got there it was only 20 degrees so the cold weather really stood out early. I wasn't really used to it. But the next day, on Saturday, it was beautiful. There was snow on the ground but the sun was out and it was peaceful. I got used to the cold weather pretty quickly."

Finau had taken his first official visit to West Virginia the weekend of November 9th when the Mountaineers played Louisville.

"The crowd, the coaches and the people stood out at West Virginia," Finau said. "Everything out there is awesome. My trips to Colorado and West Virginia were very similar.

"I got along with everyone on both trips. There weren't really any differences so it's hard to rank one over the other."

Finau has a number of other colleges after his signature, so he is not in a rush to make a final decision. "Right now I have three official visits left," he said. "I will take those and just compare them all. I haven't decided on which three I will visit. I'll probably decide that sometime next week."

When asked which colleges are in the running for his final three trips, Finau mentioned Florida, USC, Cal, Oregon, Oklahoma and Auburn.

"I don't care if the college is out on the east coast, location doesn't matter to me," he added. "The most important factor in my decision will be how I get along with the coaching staff."

Finau is ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's seventh best Junior College prospect this cycle, regardless of position.

"I am still kind of new to playing on the defensive line, I just started playing it this year," he explained. "I played tight end in high school. But a lot of the coaches like my versatility and how I can play a three technique and move out in passing situations and how I really get to the ball. That is what most of them have complemented me on."

Whichever college Finau chooses, his path from high school football to Division-1 ball will have been a strange one. Finau originally signed with Oregon State in 2005 out of high school but he failed to qualify academically. He was then set to take his LDS mission but there were numerous delays due to both medial and dental issues.

"My father just said, 'okay, that's too much waiting.' And I went to work," Finau recently told A.W. Prince of BearTerritory.com, part of the Rivals.com network.

Finau worked in construction for about 18 months in Hawaii.

"After that, I came out here to Arizona where I was all set to play football for Eastern Arizona with my cousin," he told Prince. "But when we got there, we really didn't get along with the coaches, so we decided to just head back home.

"But when we came back to Phoenix to catch our flight, we stopped at a Hawaiian Barbeque place to eat. We were all set to fly back home later that night. But while we were eating, there was this guy who came over and asked if we were football players. He happened to be a coach here at Phoenix, so when he heard our story, he asked if we'd like to see his school. The next day, we were enrolled and everything."

Finau greyshirted his first season at Phoenix College and then played this fall as a true freshman. He is on pace to graduate from Phoenix College this May with four years to play three.

Finau actually got his start in athletics playing Rugby in New Zealand. His father is currently one of the top Rugby coaches on the island of Maui.

"I was born and raised in New Zealand and when my family moved to Maui, I almost stayed behind because I had just qualified for the 16-under national [rugby] team there," he recently told A.W. Prince of BearTerritory.com. "I was pretty excited about that, but I decided to move anyway. There really wasn't much competition in football in Maui, so I moved with my uncle so I could play in Honolulu for my junior year. That's really where I got hooked on football."

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