Oregon State fans have seen a decline in recent years in their team’s efforts to pursue, prioritize, and ultimately land a signed National Letter of Intent from prospects coming from the “Beaver State”. However, those same fans, and those who carefully pay attention to recruiting, have seen a different attitude and mindset that this new coaching staff has when it comes to making sure the best talent from within the state is always made to feel like Oregon State is their home away from home. It starts with Jonathan Smith who deserves a tremendous amount of credit for building that kind atmosphere in Corvallis in such a short period of time without having coached a single football game as the Beavers head coach.
On April 28th, the Beavers hosted almost 100 recruits for their annual spring game. On that same day over 100 alumni and former players were there in attendance to check out the vibe around campus and inside Reser Stadium.
One of those recruits was 6-foot-4, 250-pound 247Sports three-star tight end Diego Fuimaono from South Salem high school who made the roughly fourty mile journey down I-5 to check out the Oregon State spring game in Corvallis.
“I had a great time this past weekend at Oregon State. I loved the environment and the family feel I got from the different activities we took part in, as well as the full campus experience on our tour, that was huge for me.”
After taking unofficial visits on back-to-back weekends to check out what the Beavers have to offer on and off the football field, Fuimaono admits that he is quickly growing closer with a few key members of the coaching staff.
“I have talked to Coach Smith, Coach (Brian) Wozniak, and Coach (Mike) Riley, all of whom I have gotten to love to talk with, especially Coach Smith, he really stands out to me as a person and as a coach. I have had multiple conversations with both Coach Smith and Coach Riley last weekend on my first unofficial visit and at the spring game and they seem to be very knowledgeable while knowing exactly what they expect from their football team.”
Fuimaono has found that he has connected really well with a familiar face who has made a triumphant return to Corvallis and will be coaching the tight end position.
“I feel the talks with the coaching staff have gone pretty well, especially with Coach Riley. Riley said that he really loved my film which featured my best catches and blocks over the past season so I’m glad he likes that I am able to do multiple things well at the tight end position. Riley said that he loved my current hudl film and that really stood out to me that they are interested in me as a prospect if they like my film. Coach Smith was very persistent in saying he wanted me and my teammate Ashton Adams (offensive line prospect also from South Salem) to attend Oregon State’s summer camp on June 3rd and that seems to be a very good sign of what could come and I am very excited to attend. They seem pretty interested in pursuing me as a recruit and I am very excited about that.”
I look a the 6-foot-4 240-pound pass catching tight end’s frame and I see the perfect size and physical stature to play the role of tight end in this new Beavers offense. However, Fuimaono’s blocking skills came at a young age when he began to play football at the pop warner level while playing a different position.
“When I was young starting to get involved in football I was a little too heavy to carry the ball consistently, so instead my coaches had me playing as an offensive lineman which helped develop my blocking skills tremendously as well as how to use both my upper and lower halves of my body to stay strong to block the big defensive ends and linebackers I will face at the next level. Also, during my high school career, my South Salem team has been a run-first team, so blocking is pretty important to me to be able to contribute in multiple ways for my teammates and coaches.”
Fuimaono has seen his stock soar over the past month after attending the Polynesian Bowl National Combine and Showcase at the beginning of April in Las Vegas for high school prospects in the 2019, 2020, and 2021 classes. Representatives and scouts from 247Sports and the Polynesian Bowl were there to evaluate all of the talent there and Fuimaono was one prospect that stood out amongst the rest at his position to National Recruiting Editor Brandon Huffman which earned the South Salem pass catcher a “3-star” rating from the 247Sports site.
“My experience in Las Vegas was amazing! The coaching I received and the talent I got to go against was top notch and it made me a much better player all around, I really learned and grew at the Polynesian Bowl camp for sure. Brandon Huffman is a very important person in my recruitment. Brandon Huffman’s article on me after the Polynesian Bowl Showcase is what drove this huge recruiting experience and exposure my direction. Brandon and his crew at 247Sports blessed me with a 3-star rating after that weekend and wrote very highly of me and I won’t ever forget that because I have them to thank for everything related to my recruitment.”
The determination to become a better overall athlete doesn't stop there for Fuimaono. He is not only on perfecting his football skills in his free time, but took on another spring time sport to make sure he is in the best physical shape possible going into his senior season.
“I took up track and I have a strict diet I follow to go along with at least one, usually two grueling workouts a day to tone myself down to peak physical status. Track definitely has had a huge impact in my speed and stamina which has been very helpful. I want to tone down my body and ultimately end up around my current weight (240-pounds), but more toned and muscular. I want to get rid of the unwanted fat I have left from all of my previous unhealthy eating. Track is helping me a lot with managing my weight too as the running is making more of a difference than I’ve ever really experienced.”
When asked what an offer from Oregon State would mean to him, Fuimaono cited both the sense of accomplishment and pride while also feeling humbled.
“An offer from Oregon State would be amazing, my grandparents are alumni, I live 20 minuets away from campus in Independence Oregon, and I grew up in a split household with both Beavers and Ducks. When the Civil War was played every year, I had no favorite when I was a young fan of the sport of football, but OSU’s interest in me means a lot to my family and I. I would love to attend a school that is so close to my family where they could come see me play regularly.”
While Fuimaono currently does not have any offers, he is hearing from schools like Cal, Georgetown, Hawaii, Oregon, Portland State, UConn, Washington, Washington State, and Wyoming as well as Oregon State.
He will also be attending the “Northwest Showcase” on June 2nd at Pacific University put on by Don Johnson Jr. and others where he will be able to compete against and with elite level competition with prospects from 15 different states will be there to showcase their skills in front coaches from over 20 collegiate programs from various conferences. Oregon State coaches will also be at this showcase where they will be able to see Fuimaono performance in person.
“I will be at the NW Showcase at Pacific University and I’m excited to go especially since there will be a lot of college football programs there that I admire.”
If you live in the area or are just a fan of Oregon high school football in general I HIGHLY recommend going to check out a South Salem game or two to check out the dynamic athlete that is Diego Fuimaono, as the Saxons look to compete for the 6A Greater Valley Conference title, in a league that is expected to have 3-4 high quality teams, while trying to make a deep playoff run during the 2018 season.
Building The Dam will continue to stay in contact with Fuimaono as his recruitment is sure to start to build momentum during the coming months heading into his senior season.
Fuimaono’s Hudl highlights:
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