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Dan Sorensen: All-Poly Camp an important recruiting stop for Utes

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 7:06 p.m. MDT

Syracuse's Kavika Fonua works out during All-Poly Camp in Layton Thursday, June 20, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Syracuse's Kavika Fonua works out during All-Poly Camp in Layton Thursday, June 20, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

As college coaches from around the nation congregated in Davis County for last week’s All-Poly Camp, perhaps the school with the largest contingent of coaches at the event was none other than the University of Utah.

Since its inception, the All-Poly Camp has been an important recruiting event for the Utes, giving coaches the opportunity to not only scout new talent, but to develop relationships that oftentimes result in commitments later down the road.

A sizable number of players on the Utah roster participated in the All-Poly Camp as prep athletes, and for many of them the camp was an important chance to get exposure to the Utah coaches. Utah linebacker V.J. Fehoko was first offered by the Utes at the 2009 All-Poly Camp after earning the camp’s defensive MVP award. Although Fehoko already had a strong relationship with Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake at the time, the opportunity to play live in front of Utah coaches began a process that eventually ended up with Fehoko signing with the Utes the following February.

Last year’s All-Poly Camp played an important part in forming the nucleus of Utah’s recruiting class of 2013. Utah signee Sam Tevi’s participation in the camp had a direct impact on his decision to commit to the Utes. Tevi, who played high school football at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas, attended the camp with teammate and fellow Utah signee Gaius Vaenuku. The camp provided both players with an opportunity to not only travel to Utah, but to work with and get to know Utah coaches.

USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley is pressured by Utah Utes linebacker V.J. Fehoko during Pac-12 football in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. Fehoko originally committed to the University of Utah after attending the All-Poly camp in Layton, Utah. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley is pressured by Utah Utes linebacker V.J. Fehoko during Pac-12 football in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. Fehoko originally committed to the University of Utah after attending the All-Poly camp in Layton, Utah. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

"When I went up there for the All-Poly Camp, I took my unofficial visit [to Utah] and I just fell in love with it right when I stepped on campus. It was just a feeling. The coaches up there are incredible. They treat you like their own son," Tevi told utezone.com shortly after his commitment last summer.

Stansbury High School defensive tackle and 2014 Utah commit Allan Havili believes the All-Poly Camp helped put him in a position to earn several scholarship offers. It was Havili’s standout performance at last summer’s All-Poly Camp that resulted in the Utah offer last summer, and that trend continued with his participation in the camp this year. Despite his commitment to the Utes, Havili stood out enough at last week’s camp to earn an offer from Oregon State. During the camp, Havili also caught the eye of coaches from Oklahoma, and he believes an offer from the Sooners may soon be on its way.

“When I went to All Poly my sophomore and junior years, I went for recruiting. I wanted to get my name out there so college coaches would know who I was. Now that I’m committed, the reason I went this year was to have fun. It’s fun. You meet a lot of new people,” Havili said.

Syracuse High School safety Kavika Fonua also sees a lot of value in the camp.

“It shows everybody’s skills. We do individual stuff like one-on-ones and hitting drills, but we also do team drills like seven-on-sevens. It has everything for a football player to show his skills,” Fonua explained.

The fact that the camp gives players an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of coaches is an added bonus for Fonua. “It feels good just to be in front of them. It makes you perform better so you can get them to look at you,” he said.

Fonua, who is currently considering scholarship offers from both Utah and BYU, claims that the opportunity he had at the camp to spend time with Utah safeties coach Morgan Scalley and BYU defensive coordinator/secondary coach Nick Howell will have a big impact on his eventual decision between the two schools.

“It shows me what both teams do for safety, too, so it helps me decide which one I like better,” he said.

Dan Sorensen is the Editor in Chief of UteZone.com and a Deseret News contributor. He can be reached at dsorensen@utezone.com.

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