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Why three-star recruit Mateaki Helu de-committed from Utah and then quickly changed his mind

The running back and linebacker says the University of Utah is still his “No. 1 school”

(Mateaki Helu) Mateaki Helu, a two-way football player who will transfer to Stansbury High for his senior year, decommitted then recommitted to the University of Utah in the span of a day.

Mateaki Helu received his first offer to play Division I football in eighth grade. It came from BYU.

Since then, the three-star athlete has gotten accustomed to being recruited. Even after shattering his elbow early in his freshman year at Tooele High and enduring a yearlong rehab process, schools still went hard after Helu.

But even for a recruit familiar with the process, it can still be a challenging one to navigate.

Helu committed to the University of Utah last August, on the very same day he received a scholarship offer. In the months that followed, he has continued to receive interest from schools, including Nebraska and Ohio State. And, for a brief moment this week, Helu seemed to have a change of heart — announcing he would decommit from Utah and reopen his recruitment.

“I owe it all to God for these opportunities he’s given me, but I also owe it to myself to take them,” Helu wrote on Twitter. “My potential is Unmatched.”

The next day, Helu took down that tweet and posted an apology. In that subsequent tweet, the junior who will transfer from Tooele High to Stansbury for next season, reaffirmed his commitment to the Utes.

“I’m really sorry, but I was misinformed, and there was a ton of miscommunication, so I acted on it,” Helu wrote.

In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, the running back and linebacker went into a bit more detail as to what went into this decision to announce his decommittment from Utah in the first place. He said the recruiting process for him has been rife with schools talking about the flaws of other schools, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. He repeatedly used the words “miscommunication” and “misinformation.”

“You don’t know who to believe or who to trust,” Helu said. “It’s just crazy in that aspect.”

Helu said he “heard stuff” and “acted out of emotion.”

“I don’t know if I made the right call,” Helu said in an interview this week before ultimately deciding to reaffirm his original commitment. “I’m thinking about taking it back.”

In the same conversation, Helu said, “Utah is my No. 1 school for me.”

Now that Helu has reaffirmed his commitment to the Utes, he is focused on taking his official visits. He said he has four already planned for this summer: BYU, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Utah.

While Helu is verbally committed to Utah, he said he will take the official visits and keep an open mind.

“After I’ve seen them in person, seen what they’re like in person, that’s when I can truly decide and make my decision,” Helu said. “But still, overall, Utah is still No. 1.”

Helu said he is looking for a program that can connect with his family and understands and respects his religion. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He added that every school to which he has spoken has the understanding that he will go on a mission after he graduates high school.

After three years at Tooele playing both ways, Helu said he plans to do the same at Stansbury. During his junior year, he amassed more than 1,000 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, while also picking up 50 tackles on the defensive side.

And when it comes to a preferred position in college, he doesn’t have one.

“I don’t have a certain position I want to play,” Helu said. “I just want to be there.”

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