Damien Mama –
Set to announce 2/5 at 8:30 a.m. on ESPNU.
(UPDATE on 1/28 there were reports that Mama would drop his BYU visit and schedule UCLA instead. On 1/29 Mama said he was dropping UCLA altogether. There may have been some mis-communications with the UCLA coaches. We will update as we get more info.)
For us this is the most fascinating recruiting battle on the board. A lot of sites are saying it is a done deal that he signs with USC. However, we don’t see it that way. He very well may, but this recruitment is a lot more complicated when you dig a little deeper. Consider these tidbits:
- How does he feel about USC now that they are backing off their offers to fellow St John Bosco teammates Malik Dorton and Shay Fields?
- How does he feel about USC backing off its offer to fellow Polynesian Austin Maloata? And considering that the Polynesian community is tight and values loyalty and family, how will they judge it? Will his family still pressure him to sign with USC as they have been?
- Will fellow Polynesian and new UCLA coach Kennedy Polamalu have an effect?
- How does Mama feel about UCLA now that they have commitments from two of his teammates and from two other Polynesians?
- Mama is a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) and is considering taking his mission right after high school. UCLA has a great track record of working with those that want to take missions, not sure about Sark or USC on that front. We understand that Su’a-Filo has been advising Mama as well.
- As far as the mission itself, it makes his recruitment all the more interesting because after he gets back in two years he is no longer obligated to attend the school he committed to (which means UCLA gets a second shot if he signs elsewhere). Perhaps more importantly, the school will no longer be obligated to offering him a scholarship either. If you were Mama, who would you trust, Sark who is pulling scholarship offers from already committed players, or UCLA which actually honored their scholarship commitment to Sua-Filo?
- There are some other Polynesian/Mormon issues that are affecting this as well, but we don’t want to put them out there on a public forum like this. But we can say they are not in USC’s interest.
- We have heard theories that Mama likes Sark because they are both Mormons – after all Sark attended BYU right? Well, yes Sark attended BYU, but no, Sark is not Mormon. He actually considers himself Catholic.
- The wildcard is BYU which Mama has agreed to visit at the end of the month.
Mama may still very well go to USC, and he may even do it in the next five minutes. Who knows, but his decision is a little tougher than many realize. He announced he is visiting USC 1/24.