football Edit

Paea has SoCal connections

Phillip Paea is a 2017 prospect from Berrien Springs, Mich. HS who already holds an impressive list of scholarship offers.

Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Oregon are among the schools that have already extended scholarship offers out to Paea, but the 6-foot-4, 277-pound lineman has also been in contact with other prominent football programs.

USC’s defensive line coach, Kenechi Udeze, has been keeping in contact as well.

“I’ve only talked to Coach Udeze, I’ve just been talking to him, he’s wanted to get to know me, about my family and why I have the interest in USC,” Paea told TrojanSports.com. “That’s been pretty much everything, he’s been trying to get to know me better as a person.”

On Thursday, those conversations led to a scholarship offer from USC.

“I was actually on the phone with Coach (Kenechi) Udeze and he offered me,” Paea said. “Because he said, during their meeting, the defensive meeting this morning, I was the first person they watched and he said they wanted to offer me a couple days ago, but he wanted to show me to some to of the coaches and see what they thought. He said that the coaches really liked me, he told them my story about how my family came and stuff like that.”

Paea is a three-star offensive guard according to Rivals.com and some schools are recruiting him to play along the offensive line.

USC has different plans. Paea says USC wants him to play somewhere along the defensive line, although that shouldn’t make a difference in his final decision.

“The position doesn’t really matter to me, I just want to play at that next level and just be able to grow as a player and a person,” Paea said. “Wherever I choose to go to school and play for, it’s just going to be mainly about the education, what I’ll be able to get out of it, the coaching staff, my family and how they feel about that college and how comfortable I’ll be there for my years playing college ball.”

USC should be able to fit his criteria and Paea knew it before he was even offered a scholarship. Paea says he already had USC listed as one of his favorite schools before that time.

“They were just on my top five, USC, just being that I have family out on the West Coast and it would be really nice to move out there, be with my family agin and have all our family close, next to me,” Paea said. “Because we’re pretty much the only family out here in Michigan, other than the one other family.”

He also wouldn’t fret a long trip out West, as he’s spent plenty of time in California.

“I was actually born and raised out here in Michigan but all my family is out there, my dad’s siblings and my mom’s siblings,” Paea said. “So growing up we used to go out to California all the time to hang out with my cousins and stuff like that. Just pretty much every summer we would always do that.”

And at least one part of his California family is in USC’s territory.

“My mom’s side of the family is up north in the Bay Area and my dad’s family is in Orange County, Riverside, all around there, Corona, so all around there,” Paea said.

He will admit though that he still has plenty to learn about the school and the football program.

“I don’t know much but I hope learn more about it, the academics,” Paea said. “I’ll probably be planning to come up there for a visit and check it out, talk to the coaches, meet them face to face, just get to know them, build a relationship with the coaches.”

His visit to USC, although enticing, is still far from set.

“I don’t really know yet, as of right now,” Paea said.

He does have some plans set. Paea wants to make a commitment much earlier than many of his peers.

“I’m going to make a commitment before my senior year, before my senior season,” Paea said.

Despite his plans to commit before he can take official visits, Paea still plans to take campus tours.

“I’m just trying to visit all these schools, just make sure the school I choose is the right one for me,” Paea said.

He says he’ll “most likely” only take an official visit to the school he commits to, but Paea will have plenty of time to think that over. He plans to sign a letter of intent in February of 2017.