Defensive tackle says he'll join Warriors
By Stephen Tsai
By Stephen Tsai
In Hawai'i football parlance, a good defensive tackle is known as "gold."
Last night, the Warriors invested in a highly valued gold-star player.
"Yes, I'm going to be a Warrior," said Nathan Mageo of New Mexico Military Institute.
Mageo, who was raised in American Samoa, will enroll at UH in January, and will participate in the offseason conditioning program and spring training.
He has three years to play two seasons.
Mageo, who is 6 feet 3 and 278 pounds, is capable of bench pressing 360 pounds and running 40 yards in under 5 seconds.
He turned down scholarship offers from North Carolina State, Kansas State, Arizona, Baylor, Troy and Southern Methodist.
"I chose Hawai'i because I like the defense, and I like the coaching staff," said Mageo, who spoke to The Advertiser after completing his recruiting visit. "I feel comfortable here."
Patolo Mageo said his son has several relatives in Hawai'i.
The Mageos are a close family.
"I talk to him every day," Patolo Mageo said. "I want to see how he's progressing academically. His coach tells me how he's doing, too."
Nathan Mageo was a standout athlete at Samoana High School.
He said he aspired to pattern his play after the style used by Samoana alumnus Isa'ako Sopoaga, a former UH defensive tackle now in his fifth season with the San Francisco 49ers.
Mageo also played rugby, and was in the "powerhouse" seat on the rowing team.
But football was his passion.
"I grew up loving the game," he said.
He accepted a scholarship from NMMI, a two-year academy that is the self-nicknamed "West Point of the West."
"He's a real good player," Bronco head coach Jeff Lynn said. "He's a big, strong defensive tackle."
In the Broncos' 4-4 scheme, Mageo was the shade tackle, aligned across from the center. Through 10 games this season, he had 26 tackles, including 12 for losses, and 2 1/2 sacks.
"Most of the time he was double-teamed," Lynn said. "To have those kinds of stats is pretty remarkable."
Lynn described Mageo as "big and strong with a good motor. He always plays hard. He's a super person. He's a strong student. He's a good leader for us. We never had an ounce of trouble from him."Patolo Mageo said his son remains grounded by focusing on his studies and serving as a church leader. Patolo Mageo is the director of the Agape Church in American Samoa.
"I spoke to the (UH) coaches, and told them what I was looking for as a father," Patolo Mageo said. "The No. 1 priority is academics. I want him to graduate. Second is football. Hawai'i's program is very good."
He said his son also has a strong interest in his Samoan heritage.
"Whenever he comes home, he helps me make the umu (a method of cooking)," he said. "He always keeps his culture and his customs."
Mageo said Hawai'i's large Polynesian population was influential in his decision.
Most of all, he said, "this is a good place to play."
Patolo Mageo said his son always has been large.
"When he was born, my sister called him a 'giant,'" he said, laughing.
Although cornerback Ryan Mouton suffered a high-ankle sprain in the first quarter against Idaho Saturday, there is a possibility he will be available for this week's game against Washington State.
Head coach Greg McMackin said it usually takes more than a week to recover from such an injury.
But "you never can tell with Mouton," McMackin said. "He's a fast healer. I wouldn't be surprised if he played. With Mouton, there's always a chance."
Desmond Thomas replaced Mouton in the first quarter, and made a key tackle and a sprawling interception, which led to a UH touchdown.
Strong safety Erik "E-Rob" Robinson aggravated a hamstring injury and was on crutches at the end of Saturday's game. But McMackin said he is hopeful Robinson will play against Washington State.
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com.