Let’s set the record straight on Pitt recruit Jeremiah Taleni, the big defensive tackle who lives and goes to high school in Hawaii.
“I’m Samoan,” he told me late Wednesday night. “I’m just from Hawaii.”
One more thing: Taleni said he could have gone to the University of Hawaii and play Division I football, but he decided to reach a little higher.
“My plan was to play on the east coast,” he said. “To bring Islanders to the east coast. I was trying to set a trend.”
Washington State and Massachusetts also offered Taleni a scholarship, but Pitt was closer to the east coast, his intended destination. More importantly, Taleni developed a good relationship with defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield and coach Paul Chryst.
Taleni said Pitt coaches told him that he is the first player from Hawaii to be offered a scholarship by the university.
I can’t say that Taleni will be a star at Pitt, but I’ll say this: The kid is a bullet off the snap. It’s not that Hawaiian offensive linemen couldn’t block him. On a lot of the video I watched, Taleni was past the blockers before they had a chance to get in his way.
At 315 pounds, he has quickness that is rare for a player of that size.
Taleni, of course, has a lot to learn and the linemen he eventually will face in the ACC won’t be as easy to defeat. Some of them will be just as quick off the ball. If he’s not redshirted this season, most people will be surprised.
But he’s an athlete worth watching.
Taleni is the 25th prospect to verbally commit to the Panthers. Already, it’s the largest class at Pitt since 2006. Expect a few more commitments in the next three weeks.