When CavsCorner caught up with three-star defensive tackle Samson Reed last Monday afternoon, he wasn't talking like someone who would pick the Wahoos six hours later as part of an eight-part barrage of additions to UVa's 2018 class.
But the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Hawaiian decided he didn't want to wait any longer because he had found his home.
"I just felt it's where my heart belonged," he told CavsCorner that night. "From the work ethic and values that the program teaches to the genuine feelings I got from all of the coaches. I know I'll develop into an amazing man under their watch."
With offers from BYU, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, UNLV, San Diego State, and Washington State as well as interest from Georgia Tech, Southern Cal, Washington, and UCLA, the Kahuki (HI) standout had a lot of options on the table.
Ultimately, he chose a school that, like many of the others recruiting him, is far from home. Luckily, his family does have something akin to roots on the eastern seaboard.
Following a stint playing football at Hawaii, Reed's father Tanoai met a couple of stunt men and fell in love with the business, ultimately becoming the body double for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson starting with The Scorpion King in 2002.
"The distance isn't really too bad because my dad works in movies and he's always traveling so I get to travel with him," Reed said. "Because my dad's been working in Georgia a lot, he has a small condo out here and I knew no matter where I went, they'll follow me."
As he looks back on his recruitment, Reed is happy with how things played out.
"I had a lot of good options and I'm proud of what I worked for," he said. "I feel really good about that."
UVa made a big impression right away. In getting to know defensive line coach Vic So'oto, Reed saw a lot of himself in his future position coach.
"I heard a lot from Coach So'oto," Reed said. "He was always contacting me and getting up with me. It's really cool that they have several coaches like him who understand the big choice we have here, whether we stay on the island or not. They have experienced the same thing as I have and they know how that decision changed them through their life or helped them. There's a connection kind of because those guys can relate to the same thing."
Recently in town for a visit, Reed said he felt at home in Charlottesville and that was a big part of his decision.
"Coming in, I liked that it wasn't like a big town," he explained. "That's something I really liked about it. It's its own little thing. I liked that a lot. We got to see a lot on the Corner and then we spent time touring the school and then I took part in the camp."
The offer that came from Bronco Mendenhall following his performance at camp obviously made a big impact, too.
"They ran [the camp] differently," Reed said. "Coach Mendenhall and Coach So'oto, they ran a hard program. It was a lot of running to the ball and high tempo stuff, really high tempo. I really liked Coach So'oto's work ethic and how he ran us through their drills."
And the fact that So'oto is someone who has recently been a player in the NFL certainly didn't hurt.
"I think it's really cool that he knows what the expectations are for that level of football and how he's able to coach us through it," Reed said.
So now, with his decision made, he no longer has to worry about too many more long flights and trips for college visits. Instead, he can settle in and get to know his future teammates and coaches even better.
"It feels so good," he said. "I can concentrate on finishing my senior year strong and not stress out. I have a new home and a family waiting for me when I graduate."
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