Things are starting to heat up on the recruiting trail in the spring. Now that most 2022 prospects are signed to their respective schools, attention turns to the 2023s, with many of the cycle's top players already coming off the board.
One player that's had a lot of eyes on him for quite a while is Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco High School defensive end Matayo Uiagalelei. With 20 reported offers to his name, his top schools could be gaining some clarity this month as he navigates the recruiting process.
"I feel like it's going pretty good," Uiagalelei said. "I'm trying to narrow down where I want to go. It's kind of difficult but I'm getting there."
The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder has seen plenty of two schools out west since the turn of the calendar year, with Oregon and USC, each receiving a pair of visits from the defensive star.
Following a chaotic coaching carousel in the winter, new Oregon coach Dan Lanning is one of the most intriguing first-year head coaches in the country, as he looks to bring his defensive dominance and recruiting savvy with him to the West Coast.
"Definitely the new coaching staff I like a lot," Uiagalelei said of what he's liking about the Ducks. "Coach Lanning, you saw what he did at Georgia. He definitely has a lot of experience and he's still young, so he relates to players and he's kind of like that middle ground."
Lincoln Riley is one coach in particular that doesn't want to see Uiagalelei suiting up for the Ducks, as he's prioritizing keeping Southern Cal's best talent at home to kick off his time in the city of Angeles.
"I think it's kind of similar situations for both of them (USC and Oregon)," He said. "They both have really good new staffs. I think Coach Riley's definitely turning the program around. I have a pretty good relationship with the D-line Coach, Coach (Shaun) Nua from Michigan. I think they have big things coming."
With a firm grasp of what the Pac-12 has to offer, Uiagalelei has his next slate of visits locked in. During the month of April he'll make his way out to Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State.
He's no stranger to any of the aforementioned campuses, but nonetheless will have his eye on a few things in particular as he logs miles throughout the country.
"I've been to all those schools before so it's just kind of feeling it out a little more," Uiagalelei added. "Seeing how they practice. I think I'm gonna be at Ohio State's spring game too when I go, so just seeing how they play I haven't been to one of their games yet. Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama--all three of those schools I think highly of."
As he checks off trips to some of the sport's premier programs, the high school junior will be evaluating what each school brings to the table and how they meet his vision for what his ideal landing spot looks like.
"I look for player development, like where can I go to be the best player and the best person," he said. "I definitely look at the position coaches, the position coach I'll be with. Just the program as a whole, the reputation they kind of hold, or what I think they'll move to in the future."
Uiagalelei differs from many recruits in that he's made a name for himself off the field as a music producer. It's an aspect of the process that could prove to be a nice bonus should a school be able to help him in those endeavors.
"I feel like I already have a plan for that," he said. "I wouldn't say that's one of the main things I'm looking for. If they can help me in that then it's definitely a bonus."
With his visit schedule locked in, one of the top players in the country doesn't appear to be closing in on a decision.
"Not necessarily," he said when asked about having a commitment timeline. "My brother (Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei) committed like May of his junior year. I don't really have a time period yet."
Following his next run of trips, he'll likely sit down and try to figure when he'll take his official visits, and which schools have done enough to receive one of the five coveted trips.
"I'm not sure yet, but I think I'm gonna take them during the summer," he said.
Uiagalelei's recent moves on the recruiting trail could be indicative of a top group, with a distinct group showing him the most love.
"Most of the ones I visited. USC, Bama, Oregon, Ohio State, and Clemson. Some other schools too."