A couple of weeks ago, I was able to catch up with Senior-to-be quarterback Larry Tuileta, one of the crown jewels of UH's 2014 recruiting class as he was horsing around at Punahou with some of his buddies. Lucky for me, he was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions, the most important being, Why UH?
I think that this has puzzled me, ever since he announced his intention to come here to play both football and volleyball after he graduates. And, even now, I still don't think I have a good answer. According to Tuileta, his choices came down to essentially three schools. UH, USC and UCLA, all three of which promised that he could play both football and volleyball and all three of which offered him a full ride. He told me off the bat that he eliminated all non-west coast schools. He was a low-key guy that wanted to stay as close to home as possible (and, by extension, be near his family.) He also told me that he had a personal connection with the USC volleyball coach, who he'd known for quite awhile. So of course, as an alum, I had to ask, why not SC? Or why not UCLA for that matter? All three schools have outstanding volleyball programs so that was essentially a wash. USC had by far the best football tradition, then UCLA then UH. And UCLA probably has the best team RIGHT NOW. So all other things being equal, why not go to USC? (Which, for the record, is still the question I'm asking myself today.)
In the end, he told me, the thing that he liked the most about UH was the opportunity to give back to the program, and to help build something here in his home state. He also expressed some trepidation at the sanctions that are still affecting SC (the bowl ban is over but next year will be the first where they begin to lose scholarships) as well as their general depth at the QB position (competing with Aaron Zwhalen was more appealing than struggling to get noticed by Lane Kiffin.)
He told me that he just came back from the West Coast region's Elite 11 camp (which, if you're not familiar with it, is a camp where the top high school quarterbacks go and spend a few days getting coached up by current and former NFL players and current and former NFL coaches) and that he had an amazing time. I tweeted Trent Dilfer and he had a glowingly positive response ("Tuileta is a great kid"). Hopefully he continues to grow as a Senior and is ready to step right in and help the program in 2015 (I anticipate he'll redshirt a year since Taylor Graham will be a senior during his true freshman year.) We'll see!