Pine View linebacker Thor Katoa ended his recruitment over the weekend by verbally committing to play for the University of Utah.
For Katoa, the decision to play for the Utes came on the heels of his team's narrow defeat in the state championship game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. "We came up short," Katoa said. "We played at the [Utes'] stadium and I felt good about the place. I made the phone call to Coach Sitake after we lost."
There were a number of factors that led to Katoa's commitment to the Utes. "Coach Kalani Sitake has been true to me. He's been honest in everything he's said while he's been recruiting me. I've been up to the U and watched a couple of games. I loved it up there. They have a good coaching staff and a great defense. I'm looking forward to playing there," he said.
Katoa plans to serve a two year LDS mission prior to enrolling. "They are willing to hold the scholarship for me. I'm planning on going on my mission right after high school. I've always been planning on a mission and they are willing to hold off for two years and wait for me. That was another thing that made me want to commit," he said.
Although Utah was the first school to offer Katoa, he was hearing regularly from coaches at Wisconsin, Utah State, and BYU. According to Katoa, while other offers were likely to come, his relationship with the Utah coaches was too strong to consider anywhere else.
"Coach Sitake is a great guy. He's been recruiting me for a while along with Coach Hill. I love watching the Utah defense play. It's aggressive and fast. It's coached well. I can tell by the way they bond together that it's a family environment with the defense. I have a good relationship with Coach Sitake," he said.
Katoa has been one of the top linebacker prospects in the state of Utah over the past couple of years, but he may end up helping the Utah defense in other ways when he returns from his mission. "I was told they're going to be using me as a defensive end. They expect me to be pretty big when I come back. I went from 215 to 235 pounds this season while playing linebacker, so they see me as growing into a defensive end," he said.
As a senior, Katoa was a tackling machine, recording 139 tackles and five sacks on the season. The big hitter feels that his game will translate well to the next level. "I'd say my strengths are my speed for my size. I can carry my size pretty well. My speed is pretty good for a big guy. When I get on the big stage we'll see what happens. Time will tell," he said.
Katoa will take his official visit in early January, and for now he's excited about the prospects of playing football in a BCS conference. "Playing in the Pac-12 is just a dream. It all happened so fast it's crazy," he said.