January 13, 2008

Tuitea fifth Sun Devil pledge of weekend

Arizona State landed its fifth verbal commitment of the day Sunday when Westminster, Calif., tight end/defensive endToa Tuitea committed to Arizona State just hours after returning home from a recruiting trip to his other finalist, Vanderbilt.

"It was a real tough decision for Toa but in the end it was the rapport he formed and just the love the players have for the coach at Arizona State," said Tuitea's brother Calvin, who accompanied Toa on official visits to both schools. "It was really good up there. Toa thought it was a special place. He felt it more there."

Tuitea, a 6-foot-3, 235-pounder, broke a school record a Westminster school record with 27 tackles for loss, including 14 sacks. He earned back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors as a junior and senior. He also earned All-CIF honors.

The Sun Devils are recruiting Tuitea primarily as a tight end, with the outside possibility he could wind up playing defensive end in the future.

ASUDevils.com spoke with the Tuitea family just minutes after Toa's commitment to the Sun Devils in a conversation with head coach Dennis Erickson.

"It was really cool," Toa said of his conversation with Erickson. "He was excited to hear I was committing."

A number of schools reportedly attempted to contant Tuitea late in the recruiting process, but he had already narrowed his choices down to ASU and Vanderbilt.

"Vanderbilt is a classy place," Calvin said. "Coach Rick Logo has been recruiting Toa since he was a junior and he's a great person and great coach. Toa just felt like Arizona State was a great fit. I know he bonded with Shawn Lauvao and the other players there on his visit."

"I just felt I would fit better at Arizona State," Toa said. "I felt I had a good relationship with the players out there. The coaches are pretty cool guys. I just felt like I should go out there."

The Sun Devils have 25 committed prospects in the class, including mid-year junior college transfers.

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