RECRUITING: Liberty's Tuilagi selects North Dakota


With college football’s national signing day rapidly approaching, Jared Tuilagi made an uncomplicated decision regarding his future.

The Liberty senior outside linebacker picked loyalty.

Tuilagi committed to North Dakota on Monday, choosing the Fighting Sioux over a scholarship offer from Texas Southern, among others.

“It’s kind of a loyalty thing. They were the first team to recruit me,” Tuilagi said of North Dakota. “They’ve been interested in me since last spring.”

Tuilagi also was invited to play at San Diego, which doesn’t offer full football scholarships, and received late interest from Weber State.

But he didn’t feel like playing the waiting game after returning from his official visit to North Dakota on Sunday.

“There’s a lot of talk of 'it’s too cold,’ but I just went there, and it wasn’t too cold,” Tuilagi said.

North Dakota sprinted onto the Football Championship Subdivision radar after going 8-3 in 2011, and Tuilagi looks forward to the chance to compete for playing time.

“I love their plans,” he said. “Their approach to developing the team is perfect for me.

“The community support is awesome there. It’s a great environment to play sports in, and the coaches are good to be around.”

The 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound Tuilagi was a first-team All-Southeast League pick as a senior, helping the Patriots (11-2) win their second straight Sunrise Region title.

He joins Liberty senior guard/defensive tackle P.J. Taeao (Southern Utah) in making a commitment after weekend visits.

Liberty went 4-5 when Tuilagi was a freshman in 2008, and he said the turnaround to two-time defending region champions is what he’ll remember.

“Liberty was known as a laughingstock,” he said. “When I think about Liberty, I think about how we turned the whole program around.”

Another local prospect, Palo Verde senior defensive back Jacob Witham, recently committed to Dixie State (Utah).