Newest Commit Travels Far for Arizona Wildcats, Packs Size and Heart

Rick PowellContributor IFebruary 11, 2010

Arizona will have a last-minute 2010 recruit traveling to Tucson this fall—and he’ll be traveling about 6,000 miles to get there.

Aiulua Fanene from Tafuna High School in American Samoa will be playing his college football for Head Coach Mike Stoops and the Arizona Wildcats.

Defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasosopo reached into his Islander roots to pluck this promising prospect away from Oregon State—another Pac-10 school featuring many Pacific Islander players. Tuiasosopo knew the Fanene family well, as he had recruited Aiulua’s brother Jonathan at Utah.

Jonathan Fanene is now an NFL defensive end with the Cincinnati Bengals, and his American Samoan heritage is not a rarity in the NFL. The league now features 30 players from American Samoa, which has a population of around 65,000.

The odds are definitely in favor of the 6'5", 280-pound Aiulua Fanene. He was a two-way standout in high school and led his team to the Samoa championship game. He was the Co-Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Star for the 2009-10 season.

Fanene projects more as a defensive lineman at Arizona, but he could eventually see some time at guard, as well. Fanene played defense for The World in the USA vs. The World game.

Fanene brings more than just size and pedigree with him to Tucson. He comes from a family that stresses hard work and determination. He often has put in a full day of work, cooking and cleaning for his family, before he even goes to school. The heart and determination he brings should be infectious.

Arizona features several Pacific Islanders on its current roster and is bringing in a couple more in the 2010 class. With the staggering odds of American Samoans playing in the NFL, hopefully Stoops and Tuiasosopo keep this pipeline pumping.

Aiulua Fanene now gives the Arizona Wildcats 23 commitments in the 2010 class.