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January 8, 2011SAN ANTONIO-As Viliami Moala stands next to adoring fans, asking for his self-proclaimed "ugly" autograph, the man they call Tiny responds to questions about whether he will continue to consider other suitors with an appropriately "Tiny" answer: "I'm done."
Late in the fourth quarter of the US Army All-American Bowl, the West's starting defensive tackle committed to Cal after a few false starts and delays on the stage in the southwest corner of the Alamodome, and of course, it came down to food.
Moala doubles over in laughter when the infamous hot-dog eating contest is brought up, but when he made his announcement on national TV, mama's home cooking was too hard to ignore.
"I'm doing this for my mom, so I can stay for the home cooked meals," Moala said, as he picked the Cal hat off the table.
On the field after the game, Moala still had the blue and gold lid on, and affirmed what was in doubt earlier this week.
"This is it," he said. "I really appreciate everybody recruiting me, giving me the chance to be the athlete I am, for the exposure and everything, and for all the hoopla."
For Moala, it's been about family all along. With cousin Nu'u Tafisi having played alongside Tiny's future defensive line coach and primary recruiter Tosh Lupoi, it's always been about blood.
"But, I think I came down to Cal as my final decision because of my father," Moala said. "His lifespan is not so much, because he's really unhealthy right now, and if anything happens, I can just shoot right over to Sacramento, and it's just an hour drive. I don't have to get a plane ticket or anything."
Moala said that he will still take his official visit to Oregon State with his Sacramento (Calif.) Grant teammates Darryl Paulo and Puka Lopa, but only for moral support.
"I'm still going to go, just because I promised, and I'm not about to break a promise to a teammate," Moala said. "I'm not going to switch. No, sir."
On one final note, Tiny wanted to set the record straight about the hot dog incident.
"Aw, man, I put it in sideways!" he laughs. "I didn't just shove it down my throat!"