BELLFLOWER, Calif. — The 2023 class has several freak defensive lineman nationally and St. John Bosco (CA) star Matayo Uiagalelei is definitely in that category. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound prospect is going to be one of the most heavily pursued stars in the rising junior class and Ohio State was able to host the potential five-star prospect on an unofficial visit in June.
The highlight of that visit, was the one-on-one workout with Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson. For a versatile athlete like Uiagalelei, getting a chance to focus on some of the intricacies of playing defensive end was a major bonus to the visit.
“It was an honor just getting to work with a great coach,” Uiagalelei recalled. “He knows a lot about the position and just football in general, so it was an honor. We had a lot of stuff in common (personality wise). “
Johnson set a lot of time aside on the visit to spend with Uiagalelei, just getting to know the big-time pass rusher as a player and a person. That kind of attention to detail resonated with the California star.
“I think it’s kind of special,” he said. “I feel like it lets me know what kind of potential I might have. He has coached so many great players, so just to hear (that he’s one of the top targets) makes it really special.”
Despite all of the early hype around his recruitment, as well as his status as the younger brother of budding Clemson star D.J. Uiagalelei, Matayo prefers to stay out of the spotlight. The spotlight is only going to get brighter, however, when college coaches can start calling on September 1st. Uiagalelei isn’t a big talker, but wants to be more communicative with the schools that are recruiting him.
“I’m going to have to do a better job of being more consistent with calling coaches,” he said. “I haven’t done a great job of that. I think it’s more respectful if I do (communicate more with college coaches).”
“I learned a lot (from following D.J.’s recruiting process),” he continued. “Just seeing how some schools do things and seeing how some kids look into things that don’t really matter as much. There’s other things that matter more and so (I learned) to just focus on those things.”
Uiagalelei made several visits during the month of June but wants to take more in the fall and the ensuing off-season to get as much information as possible. A return trip to Ohio State has been discussed and would likely be centered around taking in a game day atmosphere. The Buckeyes are set to host his teammate, class of 2022 four-star offensive lineman Earnest Greene for an official visit the weekend of the Oregon game, which could potentially see several underclassmen from Bosco in Columbus on unofficial visits. So far,
“We’ve definitely talked about it, but I’m not sure when just yet,” he said, of a return trip to Columbus.