ARMY AA BOWL: Army All-American selection tour
Viliami Moala is not just one of the guys because most guys aren't 6-foot-2, 326-pound defensive tackles who can play at some of the nation's most elite football programs.
But talking to coach Mike Alberghini and seeing Moala multiple times in person, it's clear that the Sacramento (Calif.) Grant four-star prospect doesn't have an inflated ego. He's soft spoken, talks about teammates first and has a gentleness about his demeanor off the field.
On the field, though, Moala is a fierce and tough competitor. Alberghini talked about his star player Tuesday prior to Moala's U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey presentation. He and Grant teammate James Sample have been selected to play.
"You would not know he's this ferocious football player because he's so calm and he's easygoing," Alberghini said "He's a person that has fun with all his teammates.
"He never places himself above anybody. That's one of the things you like most about him is that he's such a tremendous player but that never comes into the equation. He's just one of the guys."
Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State and others have offered Moala, who has said he's considering schools closer to home because he likes to see his parents in the stands.
Florida, Alabama and other programs have shown interest and Moala said he might visit because he likes SEC football but the general thinking is that he'll stay somewhere in the Pac-10.
Rivals.com rates Moala No. 9 at defensive tackle, No. 107 in the 2011 class and eighth in the California state rankings. The only player from the northern part of the state ranked higher is Fresno Central East running back Brendon Bigelow.
"Vei is a very special person," Alberghini said. "This is his third season. He's an immense young man with a tremendous personality with his leadership skills. He's a person that doesn't get overtaken by anything.
"Every day he comes out and is just one of the guys. He's a tremendous force inside with great strength and speed and it seems like the tougher the game the better he plays. He's a great complement to our program and his family."
Grant is rolling so far this season, winners of five straight and not getting challenged in any contest yet.
Sample joked Tuesday that he and Moala always have bets during the games like who will get the most tackles and that it will transition to the Army game - like who will start being one bet Sample expects to make. Others are sure to follow.
Both Grant standouts are thrilled to be playing in the Army game, Sample talked about how he wants to represent his hometown and high school, but first the rest of the regular season and playoffs have to be taken care of.
Alberghini said the focus will remain on the season first and then once it's time to travel to San Antonio that both Grant players are excited about taking care of business.
"The thing is with both of them it really hasn't sunk in yet," Alberghini said. "Once you go that week and once you get through your regular season and you see what a great accomplishment it is to be nominated and asked to play in this game I think it gets a little bit bigger as you get toward it.
"Right now it's one of many things that they see. They both realize they're very fortunate because there are other players on this team that are very good and they realize they were selected in front of them so they feel like they have to go out and play well to represent their fellow teammates."