While the "diamond in the rough" prospect is becoming more and more rare with the increasing levels of exposure for high schoolers, Lopini Katoa may be the last of a dying breed.
"For a while there I wasn't really hearing much from anyone and I wasn't really sure why," Katoa claimed. "I feel like my film is good and I've worked really hard to become stronger, faster, and do all the little things right as well. But, at the end of the day, I am really just motivated by the fact that I haven't received a lot of attention ffrom schools. I know my time will come."
The traffic through Katoa's high school American Fork has been significant this spring and the recruiting front is not a quiet as it was a few months back for him.
"The recruiting has picked up for me lately," Katoa explained. "BYU, Utah, and Utah State have been after me pretty hard this spring and I feel like an offer could be coming, though it's pretty hard to tell sometimes. Boise State, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, and Washington State have come on this spring as well, making stops at my school to check out film and stuff.
Katoa is being looked at to play running back, slot receiver, safety, and even potentially outside linebacker. His junior tape is impressive, Katoa displays good lateral quickness, great vision, and above average hands out of the backfield. Katoa may lack top end speed, but his strengths make up for that.
"I can play wherever," Katoa said. "I'm not attached to being a running back or even playing on offense. If the team needs me to play safety, that's what I'll do, linebacker, same story. I love football and I just want to play at that next level."
Katoa has scored 25 touchdowns over the past two seasons, making him one of the most productive play makers in the state of Utah. While this made a splash with the local schools, it wasn't until Katoa had a monstrous showing at the Pylon 7 on 7 in Las Vegas that out of state school took notice.
"I think Vegas was pretty big for me," Katoa explained. "I won offensive MVP and my team got all the way to the finals. Once word got out about my performance a handful of schools started reaching out to me on social media. Since then I've been in pretty close contact with OK State, Wazzu, and all the in-state schools.
The Texas transplant may be without an offer right now, but after going to All-Poly Camp this summer it's hard to imagine Katoa not reeling in his first.
"The plan is to go out there and do what I've been doing, work my tail off and preform at a high level," Katoa said. "Sometimes I get stressed about getting offers, but I know I'm doing all I can. I have faith that the hard work will pay off and I will have some good options at the end of the process."
Katoa is a sleeper for now, but that could change once he gets some exposure this summer. Katoa's size, athleticism, and determination are all above average, it should only a matter of time before the offers start coming in.
Hands and Toughness will take Lopini Katoa a long…