Written By: Kris Shankle (@Hoosierkris)
Sio Nofoagatotoa didn’t grow up in your typical hotbed for football recruits. He barely even grew up in the United States as American Samoa, which is located in the Pacific Ocean is where he was born. American Samoa is a unique place. Technically it is part of the United States, but at birth citizenship isn’t granted. I’m trying to paint a picture of just how hard it is for those living there to make a future outside of the island for themselves. The most common ways are going to college outside of the area as a student or student athlete. Military enlistment is the main way though, as American Somoa holds the highest rate of enlistment among any state or territory in the United States.
Football is something that is very big in American Samoa, and thankfully for Sio when he was in elementary school they started some youth football leagues. At age 10, he decided to give it a go. He knew that chances were not going to come around very much, so anytime he had a shot to make a name for himself he took it. His father played football in high school, so he helped him in the early stages with the game and then one day, Sio realized that he may just be good enough to play football at a higher level.
Still, Sio had to be patient. Even though he knew he was good enough to play college ball, not many others had figured it out. That led to his family moving to Australia when he was 15 and then shortly after moving back to the United States last July. This time the family decided to give Clearwater, FL a shot. It wasn’t easy though and it’s taken it’s toll on the family. His parents have done everything in their power to help Sio and his siblings chase their dreams. Sio isn’t a kid that takes these things for granted either. In speaking with him, he’s constantly talking about helping his parents for everything they have done for him.
Now to the recruiting part of Sio Nofoagatotoa. The 6’3, 300 pound defensive tackle just started receiving division 1 contact recently. Sio is currently ranked as a 3-star DT according to 247sports. He holds two offers right now, but is looking to make that number grow.
Arizona and Indiana are the two offers at the moment. Indiana was the first to offer though and that will have an impact on Sio’s decision in the future. He’s thankful that Coach Hagen and the rest of the staff obviously saw something in him to become his first offer. Offers aren’t the only kind of way to show interest though and right now there are other schools trying to get into the recruitment. Ole Miss, USF, UCF, Louisville, Colorado, Pittsburgh and Virginia among others have been in contact recently. The plan for Sio is start planning some visits so he can get to know these schools a little better. Indiana is definitely a school that he’d like to visit in the future, but it’s something his family is going to have to work out first as is the case with all the other schools. Traveling around the country isn’t cheap, but Indiana is definitely at the top of his list and will likely stay there for the foreseeable future. Nofoagatotoa could definitely see himself attending school in Bloomington as they bring what he is looking for on and off the field.
Clearwater Academy International is where Sio attends high school and plays football and his talent was obvious from day one to the coaching staff. As a Junior, Sio helped lead his team to a 7-7 record, but the kind of numbers that he put up were video game like. He recorded 90 total tackles on the year with 40 of them coming behind the line of scrimmage. With his size he’s able to plow through defenders and get into the backfield at will. He also has great footwork that helps keep his balance. It helped lead him to 13.5 sacks on the year, which would’ve normally led his squad, but a teammate had 30 sacks. He also finished second on the team with 6 forced fumbles. With the team leader in sacks and fumbles being gone now, the pressure to take his game to another level is even higher. Sio looks to become not only a leader on the field for his squad, but also off of it.
Sports aren’t the only thing that Sio likes to work at. He takes his classroom work just as serious as his football career. Sio’s mother has instilled a work ethic in the classroom for him as she has taught him that life is bigger than just football. Watching his parents sacrifice so much just for him to chase a dream has really helped humble Sio. His parents weren’t able to make the move to Clearwater with him as they stay in Australia, but that hasn’t stopped them from leaving their mark on his day to day. His parents have shown him the importance of hard work and what it can help lead to and in the future, he is counting down the days until he can use what they’ve taught him to repay them for everything they have done. One day the goal is for them to all be together again somewhere. Hopefully when that day comes, Sio is able to show his family in person that their sacrifices paid off.
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