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Folorunso “Foley” Fatukasi felt like a Huskie when he attended UConn football camp in June.
The Beach Channel defensive lineman was being singled out in drills, asked to demonstrate technique and being corrected as if he was taking part in UConn practice. Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni was involved. The rising senior said he learned so much.
“The way they kept eye contact, the constant talking, telling me to do something,” he said gave him a good feeling.
The Big East school had already become Fatukasi’s targeted destination after he went to spring practice and watched the defensive line “tear it up.” He wanted to stay close to his tight-knit family. UConn got serious about recruiting him after the camp and offered him July 9.
The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Fatukasi immediately accepted a chance to play defensive tackle in Storrs, Conn. He is the first player to go directly to a BCS-level school straight from Beach Channel in the 10 years Coach Victor Nazario has been at the helm.
“I don’t have to worry about going to any more camps,” he said. “Everything is just overwhelming. It’s about time. I got a school that my family likes and that I like.”
Fatukasi later added, “It’s a big deal. It feels pretty good to get my school some recognition.”
Fatukasi, who also drew interest from Rutgers, Syracuse and Delaware, picked the Huskies over Buffalo, which was his lone other offer. He loved the atmosphere the coaches bring. They cracked jokes and made him feel comfortable.
It hasn’t been an easy road for Fatukasi, who wants to major in engineering or sports medicine. Not only did he have to overcome playing in the PSAL Bowl division, the middle of three tiers, for a program that rarely gets recognized, but he battled multiple knee issues during his career.
Fatukasi had to get his knee scoped as a sophomore and then again before his junior season, costing him several games. He still helped the Dolphins reach the Bowl final two years ago and go 6-3 last fall. He went to multiple camps and kept asking questions of coaches, wondering how he could stand out. He performance did just that.
“He’s big, he’s athletic, he has a lot of potential,” one coach familiar with Fatukasi said.
Nazario said he knew he had something special in Fatukasi as a freshman, when he was already 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds. He had the determination to match.
“He put in the work to improve,” Nazario said. “[When he was a] freshman I was saying to myself, ‘When this kid is a senior he is going to be a monster.’ It’s outstanding for the program. He’s pleased about UConn.”
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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