A teen sought after through the one of the crucial maximum mythical names in faculty football wasn’t wearing himself as a highly-recruited famous person in this scorching July day. A mini-mountain of a defensive lineman status at 6-foot-Three and 300 kilos, Siaki Ika walked thru a hallway at East High on a venture: Not to get an additional exercise in, or have a snack.
It used to be time for a senior elegance retreat, and he wasn’t going to pass over it for the rest.
Such conduct is bizarre for a recruit who has Alabama, Southern California, Washington, Ohio State and Utah all clamoring for his signature on a National Letter of Intent. But Siaki Ika is no longer your commonplace recruit. He has remained remarkably grounded right through the recruiting procedure and while you pester him about all of the consideration and adulation, and the time calls for of speaking with coaches, his answer is cool and calculated.
“The offers are great to have and it’s an honor,” Ika mentioned. “But, I have to have a plan.”
And with that, he turns his consideration clear of the recruiting procedure and to his present obsession — beating Bingham and organising the Leopards as the most efficient group in Class 6A.
But this is who Ika is off the sector— a quiet and humble child who is conscious about his ability, however mindful that a misstep can remove the whole lot in an rapid. Instead of basking in the eye, his stardom makes him paintings tougher. And whilst he embraces football as his price ticket to greater and higher issues, he’s labored even tougher at being a well-rounded scholar.
“The thing with Siaki, he’s had an excellent supporting cast around him,” East trainer Brandon Matich mentioned. “They say that it takes a village to raise a kid, and Siaki’s literally been raised by an Ika village. If he steps out of his lane academically, his whole family is at the school meeting with counselors, trying to figure out how to get him back on track. It’s all kept him humble and on the right path.”
Ika’s ability at the box used to be obvious early on. Four years in the past, Matich watched Ika throughout a sweltering July exercise, and he merely knew. By the tip of the day, he sat Ika down and “told him he was going to be the highest recruited kid I’ve ever had,” Matich mentioned.
That’s precisely the place Ika’s tale has long past in 4 years. To take a look at him at the football box is to wonder at his physicality. He’s incessantly too giant for his jersey. Vertically, he towers over teammates, with the muscular tissues that means he is all the time some of the best possible gamers at the box.
It incessantly takes two offensive linemen to dam him, which unlocks Matich’s liked Four-2-Five alignment. In an technology the place the unfold offense reigns, East can incessantly devote extra defensive backs to protection as a result of Ika soaks up blockers like a sponge. The Leopards’ defensive ends incessantly have just one blocker to overcome on their technique to opposing quarterbacks due to Ika’s presence, and East linebackers are incessantly unfastened to roam and stuff the run sport.
Ika is extra complex than different recruits as a result of his nimble toes. See, right here’s the item: Many defensive lineman are giant, and with some energy combined in will also be a run stuffer. But Ika’s no longer simply giant and sturdy. Because of his footwork, he can assault an offensive lineman with a bullrush, or spin previous them and dance on his technique to sacking a quarterback. His quickness off the ball creates benefits many his measurement don’t get.
Because of those attributes, Ika has been in comparison to one of the crucial nice defensive tackles to return during the Utah highschool football scene: Think of gamers such as Star Lotulelei and Haloti Ngata who’ve long past directly to NFL status and fortunes. Think of new greats nonetheless in faculty football, such as USC redshirt freshman Jay Tufele.
“He has a chance to make it to the highest level of the game,” Matich mentioned of Ika. “And I think he has a chance to be just as good or better than they are, which is humbling to think about. You simply can’t teach his size. He’s a big, giant kid. He has great footwork and he’s so explosive. He’s a sweet, humble, beautiful kid on the street. But, when he puts that helmet on, he’s a competitive, nasty kid. He has as good a chance as any to get to the highest level.”
Because Ika — who used to be as soon as dedicated to BYU however then de-committed — is so highly-recruited, one query comes up: Will he keep as regards to house for faculty? It’s been a giant factor with heralded recruits in the previous; they seldom keep native. Since 2008, the top-rated recruit through 247Sports activities.com in the state of Utah has long past out of state all however two instances.
When Tufele used to be some of the sought-after highschool gamers in the rustic, USC signed him with relative ease. The No. 2 recruit in Tufele’s elegance used to be Salem Hills linebacker Porter Gustin; he additionally signed with USC and has change into a standout linebacker with the Trojans, even though he just lately suffered a important knee damage.
The University of Utah eagerly welcomed Gary Andersen again to its body of workers with the function of defending its recruiting house base. Andersen — a shut good friend of Matich — is extensively seemed as some of the premier recruiters in the Western United States. But whilst the Utes stay firmly in the chase for Ika, it’ll be tricky for them to overcome out Washington, USC and Alabama.
“It’s tough, just like it’s tough for California schools to fend off other schools [coming to] California,” Utah trainer Kyle Whittingham mentioned when requested about protective the state from out of doors colleges. “Nobody just absolutely puts a fence around their state or area and gets everybody. That just doesn’t happen. The talent level in Utah is such that it’s attracting more quote-unquote big-time programs.”
For his phase, Ika mentioned he likes every college on his listing for differing causes. One of his best possible pals performs at Washington. He and Tufele have shaped a giant brother-little brother dating, even though the East-Bingham contention will get a lot of consideration on every occasion the 2 communicate. Alabama is merely “Bama” to Ika, the blue-blood college each and every child desires of attending. Utah has shut proximity, and Andersen’s already made an affect. And that’s even sooner than an be offering from Ohio State arrived remaining week.
Whichever college in the end lands Ika is getting a well-rounded particular person. He’s a singer, and two years in the past carried out the nationwide anthem in complete uniform sooner than an East sport. His folks moved again to Tonga to run a circle of relatives trade, so Ika’s been raised through his siblings.
When will Ika determined to devote? He didn’t give a timetable for making a selection. What he actually needs is for the season to start out, and for the Leopards to make a run at a state name. If that may occur, Ika says, the whole lot else falls into position.
“We’re young this year but we’re going to be really talented,” Ika mentioned. “I think this year is going to be great. It’s my last year with my friends and I want to make the best of it. There’s no better way than to end it with a state title.”
Where the No. 1 ranked recruit in Utah in keeping with 247Sports activities.com’s annual scores went to university
2018 • Penei Sewell, OL, Desert Hills: Oregon
2017 • Jay Tufele, DT, Bingham: Southern Cal
2016 • Semi Fehoko, WR, Bingham: Stanford
2015 • Osa Masina, LB, Bingham: Southern Cal
2014 • Dalton Schultz, TE, Bingham: Stanford
2013 • Cooper Bateman, QB, Cottonwood: Alabama
2012 • Troy Hinds, RB, Davis: BYU
2011 • Harvey Langi, LB, Bingham: Utah (transferred to BYU after freshman season)
2010 • Ricky Heimuli, DT, Brighton: Oregon
2009 • Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, Timpview: UCLA
2008 • Lynn Katoa, WR, Cottonwood: Colorado