In a year that is short on available scholarship spots and a deep defensive line room, our defensive staff took the approach of both swinging for the fences and combing through the local talent for high-ceiling talents to maximize our potential over the next couple of years. Siaosi Finau is the most surprising of these recruits.
Finau’s commitment in late June was such a surprise to everyone outside of the program that he didn’t have a 247 profile, which makes some sense given that he also didn’t have a single offer outside of UW. Once the media figured out who he was, he was rated as a 3-star recruit that ranked as the #94 DT in the country and the #22 recruit in WA. At first glance, this seems like a questionable pick up given fan expectations of annual Top 15 classes or better, but there’s a lot to like about Finau and why he hasn’t seen the sort of hype that he might deserve.
Playing for a 5-5 Renton team last year certainly didn’t help Finau get on the radar of major college programs, but neither was his size. As recently as the beginning of the 2019 season, Finau was listed a 6-3, 225 lbs on the Renton roster. Subsequent interviews with his coach clarified that he has already begun to bulk up to play on the line, and he was playing around 270 lbs during his junior season. A 45 lb bulk is huge for one year, but if true, Finau was dominant through out this transformation, earning first team all-league honors at OL and DL. That wasn’t the end of the physical development for Finau though, as shortly after his commitment, word was already spreading that he had taken advantage of quarantine to get up to 300 lbs, and he’s now listed at 6-4, 310 lbs.
Adding 85 lbs in less than two years is a drastic transformation that is almost impossible to pull off without the right genetics, but from the film that he posted last year, he’s been able to maintain speed and quickness through the first half of his growth spurt. Even if some of his explosiveness gets sapped by his added mass, the edge skill set that he developed in HS is a useful one to keep in the back pocket. It should also be noted that Finau was Mr. Do-Everything for his short-handed program, and even though he was used a lot on the edge, his tape also shows some promising familiarity playing on the interior DL. Late-blooming, high-upside recruits that could grow into a DTs are a proven roster building strategy. Vita Vea graduated HS as a 6-5, 270 lb 3-star DE, Elijah Qualls was a 6-2, 265 lb 4-star DE, and Levi Onwuzurike was a 6-3, 260 lb 4-star DE. We might’ve just gotten lucky with Finau getting onto the DT development track early.
He’ll be a guy that I’ll be keeping an eye on for the next couple years.