By sending in his national letter of intent, Riverside Community College defensive end Misi Aiolupotea Pei became the latest member of the Washington State Cougars’ 2018 recruiting class. He’ll have three years to play two.
Pei’s story is fascinating because he’s only been playing football for two years. Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, his athletic experience is in rugby. He’s very likely only scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.
Pei, who is 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, is rated three stars by 247sports and also possessed scholarship offers from Memphis and San Diego State. Pei earned 2017 Southern California Football Association 2nd-team honors with 41 tackles and 5.5 sacks last year.
Pei should remind Cougar fans of Hercules Mata’afa. Yeah, that’s a big name to throw around considering the phenomenal season Herc just had, and it will remain to be seen if Pei can develop into anywhere near the player Herc was. However, the two are almost the exact same height and weight with very similar builds. Both play with a low center of gravity and are explosive at the point of attack and quick to redirect to the ball in the backfield.
Pei attacks well with his hands and keeps larger offensive linemen from getting established on his frame, keeping them off-balance. But there’s a big step up in talent from the JUCO ranks to Pac-12 offensive linemen. We’ll have to wait and see if Misi will be able to make a living shooting through the B-gap like he did at Riverside.
He would have been a perfect End in the #SpeedD, and new defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys may still use him in a similar role to utilize his speed and quickness. His overall lack of football experience might be a concern, but that also may mean he hasn’t developed bad habits that will need to be broken once he gets to Pullman.
Highlights from his sophomore season are embedded below.