East (Salt Lake City, Utah) tight end Joe Tukuafu, gave a verbal commitment to Utah coaches Kyle Whittingham and Jay Hill on Monday morning, making him the eighth commitment for the Class of 2014 and the sixth from a talented class in the state of Utah.
"I committed this morning at like 9:30. I committed to both (coaches) actually. It was Jay Hill first and then I spoke with Coach Whittingham to make it official," said Tukuafu.
While Tukuafu is excited to strap it up for the University of Utah, he has worn their drum 'n feather and been a vocal supporter of the Utes his whole life. "It's really exciting. (Utah's) just been the family team, we always liked it growing up," he said.
Family ties and the stadium practically being in his backyard made the decision that much easier. "(It's) close to home, close to family," he continued. "Once Utah offered, my dad was really pushing me because that's where he played and I think he wanted me to follow him."
East High Head Coach, Brandon Matich was the first to break the news this morning over social media, and the coach has reason to be excited as Tukuafu joins teammates Korey Rush (Arizona State) and Ula Tolutau (Wisconsin), as three East High Leopards being committed to BCS programs for the Class of 2014. "He was excited because now I'm the third commit for the team," said Tukuafu.
While Tukuafu can sit back now and celebrate his accomplishment, his road has not been an easy one. Tukuafu started off his high school career with a bang, but was then ineligible for his junior season. Still, his hard work and dedication have paid off and schools have taken notice.
After an early offer from the Utah coaches, they stuck with Tukuafu even when times got tough. "(The Utah offer) means a lot. I got offered by Utah going into my junior year and I was speechless because I was only a sophomore and now, just being eligible and being able to play, I'm hyped-I finally get to put on pads again," he explained. "It was a tough season to sit out last year. I've never been more excited to play football in my life."
Although Tukuafu is expecting an offer soon from Oregon State, he is content with his decision and does not plan on taking an official visit to any school but Utah.
"As of right now I'm locked, I'm shutting it down," he said.
Tukuafu's team goals for this upcoming season are obvious ones; he wants to win his region and state. As for his personal goal, he is keeping it realistic. "(I'm going for) 300 receiving yards because we're a running team," he said.
For now, Tukuafu is just excited to get his senior year of high school going, but he is excited for what the next step holds.
"Go Utes! That's all I can say right now. I'm going to be ready!"
Tukafu plans on serving an LDS mission prior to enrolling at Utah and will begin playing for the Utes in 2016.