It’s a four-team race now for Toa Taua.
Taua’s father Tee Taua announced via Twitter on Tuesday that his son, a senior at Lompoc High, will be picking one of these hats on Jan. 20 in the Polynesian Bowl to signify his commitment to the university of his choosing: Iowa State, Utah State, Nevada and, the school Tee tells me is the sleeper school among the four, San Diego State.
Verbal commitments are considered non-binding until Dec. 20 or Feb. 7 – the former now representing the date for the new NCAA Early Signing Period while the latter symbolizing the traditional February date when seniors can ink their National Letter of Intent and become an official enrollee of the institution.
All four have made a serious dash to lure in Taua during the fourth quarter of the 2018 recruiting period. Taua finished his four-year varsity career with 4,612 rushing yards and 73 touchdowns on offense, while collecting 193 tackles and 8.5 sacks on defense for a Braves team that went 44-5 overall in his four years at LHS.
The winning school will get the following: A hard-nosed, violent runner who thrives on contact or a hard-hitting defender known for disrupting plays at the line of scrimmage.
But how are all four recruiting classes shaping up and where can Taua fit in at? Here’s my take:
Obviously, the Taua surname is beloved in Reno – as older brother Vai Taua has an impressive resume with UNR.
The Wolf Pack have made a serious full-court press for Toa, as Nevada coaches have visited Lompoc High twice – once for the Lompoc/St. Joseph game on Oct. 27 and in November after the Pack’s season concluded.
Nevada currently has one running back commit for the 2018 class in Oklahoma City product Devonte Lee. No one in the current ’18 class for Nevada is listed as a safety according to 247 Sports. The chances look great for Taua on both sides. Plus, having his older brother on the coaching staff is another assist with his development in college if he chooses Nevada.
The Aggies have emerged as a late player here for Taua.
Utah State, currently 6-6 and preparing for the Arizona Bowl against New Mexico State on Dec. 29, has 12 current commits for the ’18 class – and none of them are listed as a running back.
The Aggies have gone to a spread offense attack under Matt Wells, but do need to replace senior LaJuan Hunt at running back, who has 695 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games according to the Utah State school website. Taua can give USU that power and speed back that’s been missing since the days of Robert Turbin – who posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Aggies before embarking on an NFL career.
Taua can surely help on defense too if the Aggies opt to place him there. The Aggies surrendered 27 points per game – plus struggled with stuffing the run by allowing an average of 219.9 rushing yards per game. Taua made his most mark on defense as a disruptive run stuffer in the LHS blue and white.
San Diego State
Considered the dark horse among the four, the Aztecs would be an ideal fit for Taua particularly on offense.
San Diego State has long thrived on pounding the ball and wearing defenses down between the offensive tackles under veteran head coach Rocky Long – which was Taua’s forte during his time with carrying the ball for the Braves. Plus, the Aztecs have thrived off of running backs who were not listed as 6-feet tall – as past standouts include Rashaad Penny (5-foot-11) and Donnell Pumphrey (5-foot-9). Taua has been listed as 5-foot-10 according to his Hudl account.
The Aztecs will have to find a replacement for Penny – who rumbled past the 2,000-yard mark this past season. So far, the Aztecs don’t have a running back commit for the 2018 class – as SDSU have mainly loaded up at wide receiver and the defensive line so far.
Lompoc being run heavy and the Aztecs believing in pounding the rock makes the Aztecs a strong fit for Taua.
My take on the Cyclones: Keep a close eye on this one – because this school, I believe, is the new front runner to land Taua.
Taua spent his last official visit at the Big 12 campus during the weekend of Dec. 9. Iowa State can definitely use Taua’s running. The Cyclones only mustered 3.7 yards per carry during the season.
There are two things at play here that gives the Cyclones the instant edge on luring in Taua.
One: Iowa State has become a program on the rise with a 7-5 mark that includes victories over top 10 conference foes Oklahoma and TCU.
Two: California players have done well in an Iowa State uniform before. Sheldon Croney of Bakersfield is currently in the running back rotation for the Cyclones. Fellow Bakersfield player Kamari Moya-Cotton leads ISU in interceptions with three. Also, former Cyclone quarterback great Seneca Wallace came from Sacramento. Lastly, we should add ex-Arroyo Grande High placekicker Garrett Owens is on the current Cyclone roster.