In the fall of 2013, East High running back Ula Tolutau barreled over the Leopards’ competition en route to 2,465 rushing yards, 31 touchdowns and “Mr. Football” honors. Two months later, he signed a National Letter of Intent to play collegiately for the Wisconsin Badgers.
A lot has happened to both Tolutau and the Badgers since then. Tolutau, who left on an LDS Church mission to Bakersfield, California, in the summer of 2014 and never played a down in Madison, is back in Salt Lake City. Gary Andersen, who became Wisconsin’s head coach in 2012 after jobs at Utah, SUU and Utah State, now leads the Oregon State Beavers.
Tolutau is planning on returning to school in January, but which university he’ll be attending and hitting the gridiron for next fall is in question. The only certainty in Tolutau’s mind is that it won’t be Wisconsin.
Tolutau told the Deseret News that a combination of Andersen not being there and some uncertainty about qualifying academically are the reasons he’s now looking elsewhere.
As he ponders his next move, BYU, Utah, Utah State and Oregon State have emerged as front-runners for his services.
“Some of them would write me on my email on my mission, just little things here and there,” he said.
Tolutau took an official visit to Utah in October and one to BYU as the Cougars played SUU Nov. 12. He wants to visit Utah State soon and said a trip to Oregon State would just come down to discussing it with Andersen.
“I feel like now that I’m older, I kind of feel different,” he said about comparing the recruiting process this time around to the experience he had during high school.
Given that he wants to enroll in a school to start classes in January, Tolutau recognizes that there’s not much time left to make his decision.
“The process is going well,” he said. “Everything’s really smooth so far, and the decision should be made in mid-December.”