For a while, Jacob Tuivaiave wasn’t sure if he’d sign a letter of intent to play at Washington State University.
After WSU hired Mike Leach, the new coach’s staff re-evaluated the 19 players that had orally committed to the Cougars. For various reasons, nine were told they no longer had offers to WSU.
“After I heard coach Leach was coming, I was kind of nervous if he’d drop me like those nine guys,” Tuivaiave said. “Once I heard from him, it was a great feeling.”
On Wednesday, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Washington High standout signed with the Cougars. Tuivaiave took his official visit to WSU last week and left impressed and excited.
“My impression of coach Leach was great,” he said. “He’s a great guy. His vision for WSU is very clear. I like how he came in and changed everything around.”
Tuivaiave played linebacker for the Patriots, earning SPSL 2A Defensive Player of the Year honors, but he expects to play defensive end or possibly outside linebacker.
Tuivaive played defensive end at times and excelled with “his hand down.” Washington coach Mike Von Rueden said he shouldn’t have much difficulty making the transition to defensive end.
“We put his hand down, we probably would have done it more but we had some big guys and he moves so well we had him at linebacker,” Von Rueden said. “Yeah, he’s got some great, tough highlights with his hands down. He uses his hands well in that position. And he’s just going to get bigger.”
Tuivaiave is believed to be the first Patriot to sign with a major college football program since Lew Bush, who played at Washington State and was selected in the fourth round of the 1993 NFL Draft.
Von Rueden believes that underclassmen at Washington seeing Tuivaiave achieve such success will give them a reason to continue to strive toward their own goals.
“It’s really great for them to see this going on,” he said.