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ANIBAL ORTIZ, FOR THE REGISTER
Westminster's Myron Aiava is a two-sport star for the Lions - football and basketball -- but he is going to focus on football in college. He has committed to Utah.

Westminster's Aiava a 'diamond in the rough'

OCVARSITY.COM

Myron Aiava can make it look so easy.

The Westminster defensive end powers into the backfield for tackles in football. In basketball, he dribbles from one end of the court to the other to score.

He's quick off his feet to block shots, and uses spin moves to drive to the basket.

At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, the Utah football commit possesses the athleticism that should make the Utes'fans excited.

"They've got a diamond in the rough," Westminster basketball coach Jesse Miramontez said.

But Aiava's ascent to Pac-12 status hasn't been as easy as it might seem.

One of seven children, Aiava said he grew in Westminster watching his parents, Jo-Ann and Nofotolu, work hard to provide for a family that struggled financially.

"My life has been real tough," he said. "We used to have a two-bedroom apartment. Everybody would just sleep in one room. ... And it wasn't only my family that my parents took care of. My parents took in my cousins. Everybody was always over at my house, so it was good."

Aiava didn't gravitate to team sports until the summer before he started high school. He credits playing against his older brothers, Emerson and Tolu, for helping him develop his skills.

"They coached me up a lot," Aiava said.

He played varsity football and basketball as a freshman. He views athletics as a way to help his family and better his life.

Aiava said he will be the first of his siblings to attend a four-year university.

"I try to live my life. I try to stay out of trouble and try to find a way to help my family out, get me a ticket out of here," he said.

Utah was the only school to offer Aiava. He attended one of the Utes' camps, and felt respected as a player and person.

Aiava plans to make his official recruiting trip to Utah the weekend of Jan. 18. El Toro quarterback Conner Manning, another commit for the Utes, is scheduled to make his visit the same weekend.

Aiava said he has felt pressure during his pursuit of a college scholarship. The expectations have been high for the gifted athlete, but he turned to his Christian faith to cope.

"If you just trust God, everything is going to be all right," he said. "I like to look at my life as an encouragement to do better ... not only for me but for my younger sister."

Aiava finished this past football season with 73 tackles, including 11 for losses, to help the Lions capture the Golden West League title.

He scored a career-high 36 points in a 52-42 basketball victory over Orange on Wednesday.

At Utah, he plans to major in kinesiology, with an eye on giving back.

"One day (I'd like to) be a P.E. teacher so I can be a coach," he said. "Maybe be a good coach like Coach Miramontez but if not, just try to do my best."

Change of plans

San Clemente All-County offensive lineman Sean Harlow (6-4, 270) became the fourth high-profile county recruit to de-commit when he recently switched his verbal pledge from Washington to Oregon State.

The other three players were Mission Viejo safety Max Redfield (USC to Notre Dame), Los Alamitos offensive lineman Alex Redmond (Oregon to UCLA) and Mission Viejo offensive lineman Erik Bunte (UCLA to Cal).

Road warriors

It's a busy weekend for recruiting trips. Here are some of the players making official visits:

Cypress running back Jake Brito (6-0, 190) is making Big Sky Conference tri-champion Cal Poly SLO his first recruiting trip. He visits Sacramento State on Jan. 25. Sacramento State already has an O.C. commitment in Tesoro safety Nick Crouch. ...

Servite linebacker Joel Foy (6-2, 222) is visiting Fresno State, Friars coach Troy Thomas said in a text message. Foy also will also make trips to Washington and Air Force. Washington has offered Foy a preferred walk-on, Thomas said. ...

All-County running back Nate Tago (5-10, 210) of Tesoro is visiting Montana State. Titans linebacker Conner Toohey (6-3, 224) is visiting FCS Sacred Heart in Connecticut. ...

Orange Lutheran safety Michael Ramirez (5-10, 180) is visiting FCS Georgetown. ...

The Trabuco Hills duo of J.T. Land and Alex Staff are visiting NAIA Rocky Mountain College in Montana.

Short routes

Redfield and record-setting kicker Griff Amies of Corona del Mar were selected first-team MaxPreps All-Americans this week. USC offensive lineman commit Nico Falah from St. John Bosco of Bellflower also was a first-team pick. ...

Fountain Valley offensive lineman and Cal commit J.D. Hinnant, who was in a serious car accident on Nov. 2, has been cleared by his doctor to walk without crutches, another positive sign in his recovery. ...

Corona del Mar defensive end Tim Reinhardt has been offered preferred walk-on status by San Diego State and Cal Poly SLO.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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