Highland Football football players pick college programs on national signing day
Brady Reed stands with his family after signing to play with William Penn University. (Reed family)
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By Koster Kennard | firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior football players from high schools throughout the country announced where they were going to play college football on Feb. 1. Three of these players played for Highland High School last year.
Defensive end Izzy Vaifoou committed to play for Utah State in Logan, Utah, wing running back Brady Reed committed to play for William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa and defensive end Tevita Ahoafi-Noa committed to play for Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.
One key to Utah State’s success in recruiting Vaifoou was Utah State’s defensive coordinator/ assistant head coach Frank Maile’s pursuit of Vaifoou early in his high school career, said Highland head coach Brody Benson.
“I think that he developed a relationship early on with (Utah State’s) coaching staff. I think that they did a great job recruiting him. Where a lot of the other schools were maybe a bit late to get in on him,” said Benson. “Coach Maile from Utah State kind of saw something in him that he really liked and they pulled the trigger and they offered him early and really spent the better part of a year and a half developing that relationship.”
Vaifoou is currently in the process of filling out the paperwork to serve an LDS mission. One thing that Vaifoou was looking for in a college was a program that would allow him to defer his scholarship while he served a mission. Utah State obliged.
Another thing that attracted Vaifoou to Utah State was their core values including their respectfulness, especially their respectfulness toward women.
“What I remember most from my official visit to Utah State is they made me feel welcome and comfortable,” Vaifoou said.
In Utah State’s three-four system Vaifoou plans to transition to a rush linebacker position.
“When you look at him, he still has a whole lot of growth potential,” Benson said. “So, I look at him he’s still kind of a puppy. I think that he’s going to have a chance to grow quite a bit. In the next two and a half years and then (I’m) very excited to see him up in Logan. Keep him close and see what he’s able to do.”
Vaifoou has been a high character player while excelling on the field and in the classroom.
Utah State’s location was also a factor in his decision.
“The main reason I picked Utah State is because it’s not too far from home but far enough that I won’t have my mom on my back all the time,” Vaifoou said.
Running back Brady Reed was recruited by several schools including North Dakota State and Dixie State but ended up choosing William Penn University where they run the same offense as Highland High.
“The nice thing about that is they run our offense—they run the triple option,” Benson said. “So I think Brady’s going to be able to go in there and really have a leg up as far as already knowing the offense and the terminology, which is going to help prepare him to possibly see the field a lot earlier than some other guys.”
Reed said a few other Highland players chose to play there so there is something familiar to look forward too. But, at the same time, the university is different enough to give him a new experience.
Reed’s academic prowess helped him find a school to play football at.
“He graduated early so right now he’s just training, working (and) getting ready to go,” Benson said. “He’s done a nice job as far as the classroom is concerned to put him in a situation where he had some options as far as what he was able to do academically to help him with his athletic pursuits.”
The biggest reason Reed chose William Penn?
“They gave me a pretty good offer,” he said. “So they’re paying for my school and I get to do what I love to do.”
Tevita Ahoafi-Noa wanted a place where he could grow, said Benson.
“He signed at Snow based more on his academics than his athleticism right now,” Benson said. “He’s going to end up being a non-qualifier and so he has to go the junior college route. Tevita had some issues and some struggles, but you know he’s finishing off a whole lot better than he started as far as his academics here at Highland. That I feel good about him moving on to Snow.”
Ahoafi-Noa plans to play for Snow after returning home from his LDS mission.
“Snow is a great resource for kids who maybe struggle academically or are kind of slow starters in the classroom,” Benson said. That’s what Snow is basically set up for—a lot of those kids to help get them acclimated to college life as far as their academics are concerned before going to a university.”
Although he thinks Ahoafi-Noa’s academics held him back, Benson said he thinks Ahoafi-Noa’s future is bright.
“Number one, I think he’ll be able to go down there and contribute as soon as he does go in after he serves his mission, but I think that his best football is still to be played. He had a very good year for us, was an explosive player and (I’m) just excited to see him further his academic and athletic dreams at Snow Junior College and then after he gets done there who knows where he’ll be.”
Benson said the number of colleges recruiting in Utah is increasing.
“I think you’re starting to see more kids from the state of Utah going on and playing, not only in the state but out of state as well and I just think number one, there’s real good kids in the state,” Benson said. “Number two, I think there’s great coaching, there’s great programs in this state and the schools recognize that and want to make sure they get in these schools and have a shot at these kids.”