Vista Ridge football cousin trio highlights nine athlete signings

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Photo - Samoan cousins, right to left, Mou Gagau, Phil Tuiava and Jalen Sami celebrate Wednesday , February 1, 2017 after signing their letters of intent to play college football during a ceremony Wednesday at Vista Ridge High School. A total of six Vista Ridge football players, including Kendrick Cannick, signed Wednesday. Sami will play at the University of Colorado while Tuiava and Gagau are headed to Eastern New Mexico University. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Samoan cousins, right to left, Mou Gagau, Phil Tuiava and Jalen Sami celebrate Wednesday , February 1, 2017 after signing their letters of intent to play college football during a ceremony Wednesday at Vista Ridge High School. A total of six Vista Ridge football players, including Kendrick Cannick, signed Wednesday. Sami will play at the University of Colorado while Tuiava and Gagau are headed to Eastern New Mexico University. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

At 6-foot-5½, and a surprisingly agile 338 pounds, it's no wonder why the University of Colorado didn't hesitate to offer Vista Ridge defensive tackle Jalen Sami a full-ride scholarship when he was up in Boulder on Sunday.

The measure of his loyalty was tested by Monday.

Not 24 hours after Sami decided on the Buffaloes, and what they dub "The Rise", Ole Miss made a strong push in what was a last minute all-out sales pitch for the towering Samoan senior.

Northern Colorado and Weber State were also in contact in the days leading up.

"It's surreal to have so many colleges hit you up so late in the process," Sami said. "It was a little stressful."

In the end, Sami stayed true to CU. He tweeted his decision Monday night.

And on Wednesday, with a flick of the pen, Sami signed his intent next to five of his high school teammates, including his beefy defensive linemates, Phil Tuiava and Mou Gagau, who also happen to be his cousins.

Yes, it's no coincidence that family played a part in his final decision, too.

"The family feel they have up (at CU) is pretty amazing," Sami said.

On his gridiron - family really has always come first.

Sami, who transferred from Sierra in the summer before his junior year, joined his cousins to help form one of the biggest and most talented defensive lines in the state.

Last season, the Samoan trio - all over 6-foot and 300 pounds - helped push a young Wolves' team back into the postseason for a seventh straight year.

Vista Ridge coach Jerimi Calip said all three made their presence known in a 14-0 loss to No. 1 Denver South in the first round of the Class 4A postseason.

"With those three guys, they pushed each other to be better and fed off each other," Calip said. "It's what helped us stay so close to Denver South in the playoffs because they were feeding off each other. It was really fun to watch."

The trio will now part ways.

Tuiava and Gagau committed to Eastern New Mexico, while Sami became one of the Buffaloes' 27 commits in their 2017 recruiting class, according to the team's site.

"It's going to be hard," Gagau said. "We're not going to have that trust on the other side of us (on the line), but I know Jalen is going to do big things at Colorado and we're still going to have that bond."

Tuiava added: "We were blessed to play together as one."

Nine athletes signed at Vista Ridge Wednesday, including Kendrick Cannick and brothers James and Jason Tarasyuk, who all committed to play football at Western State.

In volleyball, Bayli Monck signed to play at Montana State and Morganne Eppard made it official with Valley City State. Justin Risdall committed to McPherson College for baseball.