Utah football's latest 2015 recruit moved off the mainland in the last few years, but never moved off the Utes' radar.
On Friday afternoon, the Utes received a commitment to the 2015 class from Tuli Wily-Matagi, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound athlete from Kahuku High School in Hawaii who might play any one of a few positions in college.
Born in Provo, Wily-Matagi first met Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake as a ninth-grader at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, and the two remained connected after Wily-Matagi moved to Kahuku shortly before his sophomore year. Sitake and he touched base once again at last year's All-Poly Camp in Layton.
Wily-Matagi's mother, Salai Tafuna, told The Tribune by phone that her son is very mature, a responsible student, and has been driven to receive an athletic scholarship since not long after beginning to play football at age 4.
"It was something that he was always passionate about," she said. "He knew that that was his vehicle to getting into school."
Although he played quarterback last year at Kahuku, and Utah coaches told him they haven't ruled him out as a signal caller, Wily-Matagi thinks tight end might be his best fit at the next level.
"[Utah coaches] look at me as an athlete," he said. "They feel they can move me around, which is pretty exciting."
Wily-Matagi said Colorado has also expressed a strong interest, but he feels solid in his commitment to the U.
"I just feel like Utah has all the things I want in a college," said Wily-Matagi, whose biological father still lives in Provo. "The family atmosphere they have there, the group of guys, the sense of home. That's what made me want to commit so early. I just feel comfortable there."
Wily-Matagi and his Kahuku team visited Salt Lake in the fall, playing local East High and falling 38-15 in September.
He tentatively plans to study kinesiology and may also decide to look into Utah's nursing program.
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