The hiring of Joe Salave'a to coach the WSU defensive line opened up a recruiting door into American Samoa. Destiny Vaeao was the first recruit from the South Pacific island that committed to the Cougs after Salave'a was hired. Let's get to know him better.
Name - Destiny Vaeao
Position - Defensive Line
Year - Junior
Height/Weight - 6'4", 295 pounds
Hometown - Pago Pago, American Samoa
Things to know:
1. Big man, small island - Vaeao was a 3-star recruit from Tafuna High School in American Samoa. A member of Mike Leach's first recruiting class, he also held an offer from Utah. Vaeao played tight end and also had some kicking duty while in high school. The YouTube highlight video below shows a much slender Vaeao (he was listed at 255 lbs when recruited) making several catches at tight end and tackles on the defensive line. It's also an interesting look at football in the American Samao where apparently several games are played on extremely soggy fields from the rain.
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2. True freshman PT - WSU wasted little time putting Vaeao on the field as he saw action in the first game of the 2012 season against BYU. He would make two starts and appeared in a total of ten games in 2012 tallying a total of five tackles.
3. Increased role - Vaeao saw the playing field with more regularity in 2013. He made ten starts for WSU on the season and registered a total of 24 tackles, including 3.5 for-loss and .5 sacks.
4. Time at the BUCK - Vaeao has given the Cougs some flexibility at the BUCK position. This article explains in detail how Mike Breske was able to alternate Vaeao and Kache Palacio in the BUCK last year after Travis Long single-handedly played the position in 2012 before missing the final game of his college career to injury. The BUCK role requires that players be able to both play on the line or drop back into pass coverage as needed. Long could do both. With the size disparity between Vaeao and Palacio, WSU would mostly deploy Vaeao in running situations and against run-heavy teams such as Stanford.
5. 2014 role - The loss of Junior Gauta as the nose tackle means that the Cougs will be doing a little shuffling on the defensive line this season. Toni Pole has been moved over to nose tackle and Xavier Cooper will likely play at the defensive tackle position. Vaeao is now listed as the No. 1 defensive end for WSU. With limited experience behind him, I would expect Vaeao to start and see the vast majority of reps at defensive end this season.