Vainukus time to shine

Eureka, Calif., two-way star Soma Vainuku has watched his cousin Rey Maualuga go through the recruiting process, develop into a five-star recruit, star at USC and eventually get drafted in the recent NFL Draft.
Now Vainuku knows it's his turn to shine.
The 6-foot-1, 251-pounder recently excelled at the NIKE Training Camp in Los Angeles and after junior season that saw him rush for around 1,000 yards and also rack up about 60 tackles in defense, Vainuku has already landed three scholarship offers from Oregon State, Washington and Hawaii.
"The biggest thing about me is that I'm an overall all-around player," Vainuku said. "I do well on both sides of the ball. I play both ways really tough and physical. I think my aggressiveness and physical ability really come through.
"A lot of people might take me for granted and don't think I'm fast because I'm so big. But then I'll run down somebody in the open field. They get surprised at how fast I am. I think I have good speed that's hidden behind my physical toughness."
All of those are things were traits that Maualuga exhibits.
"Rey and I talk about every day," Vainuku said. "I ask him for a lot of advice, and we talk about what I need to do to become a better football player. He's also been talking to me a lot about keeping my head in the books. He said now that the schools are there with offers, I just need to keep my head in the books.
"He's excited about where he's ended up at, and he wants me to be able to achieve some of those same goals."
Vainuku said it's a dream he's going to do everything in his power to make happen.
"That's my dream right now - to make it where he's at," he said. "If I do make it past that, I want to make sure I stay in college all four years. My parents want me to get my education. I want to have the education to fall back on. But playing in the NFL and big-time college football is a dream of mine. It's a dream I'm going to make into a reality."
Three schools have already lined up to give him a shot at playing college football.
"I have three offers from Washington, Oregon State and Hawaii," Vainuku said. "I got the first offer from Washington, and I got really excited. I didn't think it would come this early. Then the others kind of all came in a row. That really humbled me. I knew then it was time to take all of this seriously and focus even harder on academics."
Washington is one school that has done a tremendous job recruiting him early on.
"I have built a good relationship with coach Nussmeier," Vainuku said. "I hear a lot of guys say great things about Steve Sarkisian, too. I have to agree with what all those guys say. I was nervous to talk to him for the first time, but then he made me feel really comfortable. I have built a good bond with them.
"I haven't been up there, but I'm planning on camping there."
Oregon State is another school that has impressed him.
"The coaches were telling me about how great their Polynesian culture is," he said. "I think I could make a nice adjustment because of that."
USC and Arizona State are two schools that have also expressed interest. Obviously the link with the Trojans because of his cousin is something he'd like to explore.
"Pat Ruel is coming up here next week," Vainuku said. "They want me to play running back. He said they're looking for a quality big back, and I think that would be exciting to get an offer from a place like that.
"I'm open to playing running back and linebacker. Whatever the school wants me to do, that's what I'll do. Whatever benefits the team the most."