Wisconsin has had strong play in the trenches for years now, it may be getting stronger very soon…
The secret has been out for a while now, Pacific Islanders can play football. For years, NCAA and NFL analyst and announcers have stumbled over names like Lotulelei and Kemoeatu. NFL scouts have been reeled in by freak athletes like Manti Te’o, Rey Maualuga, and Tyson Alualu. Football fans all over the country have been engulfed by the play of Troy Polamalu and Haloti Ngata. For the most part, Polynesian football players have stayed close to the West Coast, primarily playing in the Pac-12 and Mountain West, but Wisconsin is looking to change that.
When Coach Andersen and Kauha’aha’a made the move to Madison, it was obvious that they were going to try to continue to recruit Polys, but foreseeing any success was questionable. Wisconsin is a long way from home for most Polynesians and for such family oriented people, that would likely become an issue in establishing a pipeline of any sort. It was a challenge that Andersen and Kauha’aha’a were up for.
In the class of 2014, Wisconsin was able to haul in Micah Kapoi and Ula Tolutau. Tolutau, the 2013 MVP in the state of Utah, held offers from BYU, Utah, and Utah State. His high school was literally a 5 minute walk from Utah’s stadium and campus, yet Andersen and Kauha’aha’a were able to land the powerback. Both Kapoi and Tolutau hail from high schools that will be producing D1 talent for the foreseeable future… the foundations of a pipeline.
Already having a strong presence Utah, Hawaii, and amongst the Polynesian communities along the West Coast from their time at Utah and Utah State, it was pretty evident that despite no oceans, mountains, and Polynesian culture, Wisconsin was on their way to building a pipeline. This weekend was only further evidence of that.
Wisconsin landed Elu Aydon and Olive Sagapolu after their official visits to Madison this weekend. Aydon hails from Pago Pago, American Samoa and Sagapolu is from SoCal powerhouse, Mater Dei. The pipeline expanded significantly in the past 48 hours. Aydon is a well known commodity on the Islands and Sagapolu is one of the top Polynesian prospects out West this year. Both commitments will make a splash amongst their communities and continue to build the Wisconsin name.
The Badgers are also in the mix for 4-star linebacker Christian Folau, who is best friends with Tolutau and high on Wisconsin right now. With a lot of Polynesian football players, they will play football anywhere, as long as they are comfortable in the environment. It seems like Wisconsin has established that environment.
Along with coaches that understand the Poly culture, the powerful style of football established by guys like Joe Thomas, J.J. Watt, and Kevin Zeitler is going to draw Polynesian football players. On the whole, Polynesian football prospects play the game with a lot of passion, physicality, and toughness, which is a brand of football Wisconsin has been playing for years now. Badgers fans should sit back and enjoy the pipeline. If you have any questions, you can ask USC, Oregon, Utah, BYU, Washington, or UCLA fans, who have all had All-American & NFL-bound Tongan and Samoan players come through their program.