Signing day was more than a week ago, but the Georgia Bulldogs are still hoping for a couple of additions to the 2012 class. The graduation of three starters at offensive line, the decision by offensive lineman Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Palm Beach Gardens) to sign with Auburn, and the loss of commit Chester Brown (Hinesville, Ga./Bradwell Institute) due to apparent citizenship status issues have put the Bulldogs in need of some serious help along the line. After watching film, the Georgia staff this week targeted one of the top juco offensive linemen in the country.
“UGA contacted us two days ago and said they had just received film on Fehoko Fanaika (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo) and that they really liked him,” College of San Mateo assistant head coach Tim Tulloch said. “He said they lost three starters to the draft and lost a few guys to injury, and they needed someone to come in physically ready and experienced like 'Hoko. They wanted to know more about his work ethic and character, and after I walked them through that they said they wanted him.”
Coach Will Friend made sure to let Fanaika know he is needed in Athens and is hoping for the chance to tell him in person soon.
"I put Fehoko on the phone and they talked to him for quite some time. They offered him a scholarship and said they want to get him on campus for a visit."
The mammoth lineman has taken official visits to Utah State, Kansas and Hawaii already, and is set to arrive today in Gainesville, Fla., for an official with the Gators. Although the offer from Georgia is new, Tulloch sees no reason the Bulldogs would not get their chance to host Fanaika as well.
“With the tradition and reputation Georgia has, I know he is interested,” Tulloch said. “Who wouldn’t be? It’s a great school.”
Fanaika arrived at San Mateo two years ago weighing more than 370 pounds, but he has put in a lot of work since then, dropping 30 pounds. He was a CCCCA 2011 All-America Community College Football first-team selection this past season, and will leave with three years to play two seasons.
Tulloch thinks Fanaika is on the path to more success.
“He has really improved each week since he arrived, so if he continues the direction he is going he has a chance to be an All-Conference guy for two years and play on Sunday,” Tulloch said.
Although Fanaika's family lives in Sacramento, Tulloch believes programs on the other side of the country, including Florida and Georgia, have a legitimate shot at Fanaika. That's because many who come to play at the College of San Mateo do so in hopes of gaining attention from programs all over the nation.
“These kids want to visit different parts of the country,” Tulloch said. “They come here for the chance to develop and get opportunities like this, and they have a chance to travel to places and see if that is where they would like to be for the next few years.”