South Carolina has turned up its interest in a top instate prospect who is committed to an out-of-state program.
The Gamecocks have offered tight end Hank Tuipulotu (6-2, 225) of Nation Ford High and are hosting him this weekend for an official visit.
Tuipulotu is committed to BYU and led the nation with 125 catches, according to statistics compiled by MaxPreps. He totaled 1,711 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a junior he caught 105 passes for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns.
According to Nation Ford coach Michael Allen, USC has been interested in Tuipulotu since Will Muschamp and Bobby Bentley came on the scene.
“The visit has been set up for awhile,” Allen said. “When they made a coaching change and Coach Muschamp came in, they contacted us and pretty much said Hank Tuipulotu is one of their top guys and they had to have him. Of course they knew he was committed verbally to BYU, but of course the coaching change at BYU has shaken it up a little bit.”
Tuipulotu caught four passes for 32 yards in the Touchstone Energy North-South game.
“It’s kind of like a window of opportunity as well and I think the Tuipulotu family will seriously look at this option,” Allen said. “It’s a pretty good option for this family, an extremely tight-knit family, and they can keep him closer to home where he can spend time with his family and he can see his brothers and sister compete.”
Muschamp and Bentley were by the school on Thursday to meet with Tuipulotu. The BYU coaches who recruited Tuipulotu are now at Virginia and Allen said they could come in on him at some point as well. But this USC opportunity has grabbed his attention for now.
“He’s extremely excited to go visit USC and see what the possibilities are for him,” Allen said.
Tuipulotu, who is Mormon, is looking at a two-year mission with his church at some point, and Allen said USC, or any school for that matter, has to be willing to work with that.
“They are going to have to, it’s just that simple,” he said. “It’s not for Hank to decide, it’s for the institution to decide. It’s not like it’s that rare. That is what it is. You recruit that person understanding the only thing you have to deal with is a possible two-year mission.”
Tuipulotu has strong family ties to BYU. Both his father and uncle played football for the Cougars.
Allen said he’s not sure how soon after this weekend’s visit Tuipulotu and his family will get together on a decision.