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September 8, 2013

Tonga realizes Ute dream

Highland (Salt Lake City, Utah) defensive tackle Pita Tonga ended his recruitment on Saturday morning by committing to follow in his parents' footsteps and play for the University of Utah.

For Tonga, Utah was the only school he was truly interested in playing for. "I've always known that Utah was the school where I was most likely going to go. After talking it over with my parents, we decided that instead of wasting time to commit," said Tonga. "I know all of the coaches at Utah. I know Utah better than any other college. I think Utah's just been in continual support. I felt like the best step for me was to commit."

Tonga's commitment fulfills a dream for the big lineman, and is the realization of a lot of hard work on his part. "I grew up always wanting to go to the U. It's a big dream come true. It's always been in my head since I was little and the U has always been a big part of my family," he said.

The family connection for Tonga to Utah is strong. His father [Pita Tonga Sr.] was a starting linebacker for the Utes in the early 1990's and his mom [Susana Tauteoli-Tonga] was a standout women's basketball player for Utah. His decision to commit to his parents' alma mater is a big deal in the Tonga household.

"My mom couldn't be happier. She's so happy right now. She didn't even keep any other school [that is recruiting me] in mind. My dad was obviously in favor of Utah, but told me to keep my options open, but then we both decided it was best to commit. He's really happy I m going to go to his alma mater. I'll be just like my cousin Filipo [Mokofisi]. His dad played for the U and we always talked about playing up there too," he said.

Tonga's commitment came on the heels of his best game o the season, as he recorded three sacks in a 7-3 win over Herriman. With his recruitment done, Tonga can now focus on finishing his season with a bang. "It's a big relief. Now it's focusing on finishing our senior year strong," he said.

Tonga plans on serving a two year LDS mission prior to enrolling at Utah.


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