Ranking the Contenders: Moliki Matavao
In early March, four-star tight end Moliki Matavao made a significant trim to his list.
The Henderson (Nev.) Liberty standout who has 34 total offers narrowed it down to 10 programs which is a significant reduction but also allows for his recruitment to go in a lot of directions. Georgia, UCLA, Penn State, Washington, Oregon, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, LSU and Tennessee made the cut.
Matavao has not been shy about getting out and taking trips all over the country but the four-star was also planning many more through the spring and before making a commitment. It’s unclear whether that will change his decision timeline since he won’t be allowed back on the road until at least early June because of the coronavirus travel ban.
Among his top group, there are some that currently seem to stand out more than others. Below, we break down those programs and rank his contenders.
CLASS OF 2022: Top 100
When Matavao released his top 10, he said Georgia was one of the top programs on his list and he continues to back that up as his recruitment moves forward. He loves tight ends coach Todd Hartley, he’s super excited for what new offensive coordinator Todd Monken will bring to the Bulldogs’ offense especially at tight end and the four-star has great relationships across the board at Georgia. Playing with five-star Darnell Washington is also a bonus, not a hindrance, because he feels they can provide a stellar one-two punch at the position.
There are a lot of factors playing in favor of the Bruins: location, the education at UCLA, playing in coach Chip Kelly’s offense and Matavao’s relationship with the coaching staff. The Henderson Liberty tight end watched closely as to how the Bruins have used Devin Asiasi and Caleb Wilson in recent years and it’s not just a football decision for him. If Matavao goes to UCLA then his parents could come to the games and he’d be getting a high-level education with lots of prospects after football.
3. PENN STATE
Once the travel ban is lifted and Matavao can spend more time at Penn State, then the Nittany Lions could move even higher on his list. The four-star loves how that offense utilizes Pat Freiermuth and he has an exceptional relationship with position coach Tyler Bowen. Matavao also likes James Franklin a lot and he sees Penn State as an up-and-coming program with the chance to make the College Football Playoff in the coming years. Being next in line at a school that produces top-notch tight ends is strongly being considered.
When Chris Petersen left Washington it looked like the Huskies might be slipping on Matavao’s list, but he’s built a good bond with first-year coach Jimmy Lake, who was already on staff, and new position coach Derham Cato. Washington has an excellent tradition of developing and utilizing tight ends - Drew Sample and Hunter Bryant being the two most recent - so the Huskies remain squarely a frontrunner in Matavao’s recruitment.
Tight end Jacob Breeland finished fourth on the team in receptions and receiving yards and second with six touchdowns even though he only played in six games before getting injured. That captured the attention of Matavao, who said the Ducks’ coaching staff has been really aggressive in recent months. Over the last two cycles, no Pac-12 program has been recruiting as well as Oregon and that staff has proven the ability to go anywhere and get anybody. Matavao is definitely highly interested.
Matavao knows the history and tradition of Miami tight ends from David Njoku to Jeremy Shockey and beyond. He loves coach Stephen Field and his ability to get the most out of his players. Spending a few years in Miami would certainly not be a bad thing. And Matavao has also closely watched the Hurricanes’ offense because former Las Vegas standout Brevin Jordan is now playing there. Again, getting to spend more time around the team will be crucial if Miami has a legitimate shot to get the four-star.