Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012 | 12:38 p.m.
Liberty High senior lineman P.J. Taeao verbally committed to the Southern Utah University football program after a weekend recruiting trip.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Taeao, who was a four-year starter up and excelled this past fall on both sides of the ball, will play defensive tackle at the next level.
“I told the coaches up there that I would like the chance to show them what I can do on defense,” Taeao said.
When Taeao arrived at Liberty, the Patriots were widely considered one of the worst program’s in the Las Vegas Valley. But he helped transform them into a Sunrise Region power, anchoring one of the best lines in the state as Liberty won the last two region crowns. Taeao was an all-Southeast Division selection multiple times.
In 2010, Liberty lost in the state semifinals by one point. Last fall, the Patriots only trailed perennial power Bishop Gorman by one point midway through the third quarter before running out of gas.
Taeao also had offers from San Diego, Dixie State, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Eastern New Mexico, Western New Mexico and Arkansas Tech and University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio. But Southern Utah was the perfect match, especially since it’s close to his home base in Las Vegas.
“The team was real family orientated team,” Taeao said. “The coaches were great. It wasn’t too far from home. My parents can watch games, but it still is far enough where I can get some independence and grow.”
Verbal commitments are non-binding until an athlete signs a national letter of intent. Signing day is Wednesday.