Sealii Epanesa (© Barry Markowitz, 2009)
Sealii Epenesa knew they coming, but he wasn't sure what to expect. Baylor Defensive Coordinator Brian Norwood, a Radford High alum, visited Epenesa and his family in Hawaii Wednesday night and they will be his third, and probably last, official visit before he makes his final decision. Who are the other two?
"My coach at Iolani, coach (Wendell) Look, sent me a text last week that a coach from Baylor was coming," Epenesa told Scout.com late Wednesday night. "It was coach Norwood. He's from Hawaii."
Epenesa is just starting to learn more about the Bears, and there are two other schools the 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle will visit officially before he makes his final college choice. Those two schools are UCLA and Oregon State, and they both made home visits on Tuesday.
"Recruiting is going good, it's exciting," he said. "It's going to start getting busy. I'm taking trips starting next week."
First he'll visit Westwood the weekend of January 15th, followed by a trip to Corvallis the following weekend. And he told Scout.com that he just might stay on the mainland and fit in his trip to Baylor in-between his UCLA and Oregon State visits, but as of now he didn't have an exact date set.
According to Epenesa, UCLA, Colorado, Texas Tech, Oregon State, Washington and Baylor have all offered scholarships.
When the recruiting process first started for the big defensive tackle, he thought his first offer would come from the home school. "I thought they would be the first to offer, but maybe they don't need defensive tackles," he said when asked about the lack of recruiting attention from Hawaii. "I know it's all about what they need right and the direction they are heading."
So wherever he does end up, Epenesa will definitely be fighting back those inevitable pangs of homesickness. "I haven't been on the mainland since '03," he said. That's where one school just might have a bit of an edge over the rest.
"For me it's location," he said when asked about UCLA. "I've got a lot of family in LA, and that's a huge thing for me. It definitely would make things easier for me. And plus, they've got a great program and great academics."
For the Beavers, familiarity is also a plus. "They've got a great football program and they have great academics too," said Epenesa. "They have a lot of kids from Hawaii, almost 20 kids. There's a lot of familiar faces."
Epenesa, who calls Waipahu home, knows Oregon State defensive tackle Castro Masaniai, who graduated from Waipahu High.
So does one program have an edge on the rest? "I really like UCLA," said Epenesa. "But I don't want to make an early decision. I want to visit the campus and see if I fit in.
"I'm going to wait until I take all my visits."
Epenesa also added that he knows UCLA Head Coach Rick Neuheisel is expected to have an in-home visit with him after his official visit, but wasn't sure about any planned in-homes with either OSU Head Coach Mike Riley or Baylor Head Coach Art Briles.
And a decision could come right after that final trip, but Epenesa doesn't have a set timeline. "I'll have to wait and see," he said. "I could know after my last trip. When I get back from my last visit I should have a week to think about it before Signing Day. I want to talk to my family and my coaches about it."
Sealii Epenesa Scout.com profile