"I made the decision a couple days ago, but ASU has always been on my mind," Palelei said. "ASU just has better options for me. I also like Washington, which was my No. 2 choice - but I want to go to ASU. I love the stadium and how it was built out of a mountain. The whole landscape in the background is really cool.
"When I went down there I had a really good feeling about the school," he said. "My heart told me that coach (Dennis) Erickson and his staff at ASU would be really good for me. I just wanted to follow my heart. When I got off the plane (on my official visit to Arizona State and Coach Erickson and coach (Gregg) Smith (offensive line) greeted me and I just felt at home. They were very welcoming. I didn't get that feeling at Washington. I liked coach (Tyrone) Willingham and their program, but I didn't get the feeling that I got with ASU. I just really love playing football.
"Plus, I played with Thomas Altieri and Travis Goethel (both players are already playing for ASU) at Vista High in California my freshman year and I wanted to play with them again. I left after my sophomore year because I didn't get along with the coach."
Altieri was Palelei's guide around campus when he went on his official visit last weekend. They had been in contact with each other over the years but hanging out and talking really helped his decision. He left after having disagreements with the head coach at Vista to go play for his uncle at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas. His uncle, Ronnie Palelei, also played for Erickson at Washington State in the late '80s.
"Following my heart was big but my uncle really helped me out in my decision-making. He said that coach Erickson would be a good coach for me and coaches Smith and (Dan) Cozzetto (tight ends) said if I work hard I have a chance to start my freshman year. Plus there are a lot of other Polynesian players on the team that I look froward to meeting.
"Football is big for me but the academics at ASU was really important. Their academic advisers work hard with players and students to find them jobs after they graduate and that was really important to my mother and I."
Palelei needs improvement to qualify academically.