Bulldogs’ recruiting started in Valley
Fresno State locked up an oral commitment Friday from inside linebacker Hunter Kaupiko from Faith Lutheran High in Las Vegas, a highly-productive player who had scholarship offers from several Mountain West Conference programs.
What are the Bulldogs getting in Kaupiko, listed at 6-foot and 225 pounds?
“When people see him in person they fall in love with that effort and that energy and his ability to find the ball,” said Vernon Fox, the coach at Faith Lutheran and former Bulldogs standout.
“Everything you see on film is how he is every single day, and that’s probably why he continues to be as productive as he is. He’s a competitive kid. If it’s 7-on-7, if it’s a drill in practice, he wants to win.
“If there’s a knock against him, it’s to get him to kind of slow down sometimes. He wants to go full-bore all the time. It correlates and parallels with the personality and the culture at Fresno State. He even told me, ‘Man, I fit in here.’ I think it’s a good match. I think he’ll have a great opportunity there.”
Kaupiko, who has racked up 100 or more tackles in his first three seasons at Faith Lutheran, committed to the Bulldogs after taking an unofficial visit on Thursday, passing on offers from New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State among others.
Ranked by one recruiting service as a top-15 player in Nevada in the Class of 2020, Kaupiko also was generating interest from Boise State as well as Pac-12 programs Arizona and Arizona State, UCLA and Utah.
“He fell in love with how he was treated and just the culture and the atmosphere,” Fox said. “He gave me a call and said that he felt like that was a decision he wanted to make, which probably was surprising to all of us because he is being recruited by so many schools and has some offers out there already.
“We thought he might want to continue to explore, but he felt like he found a home.”
Kaupiko, armed with some inside information on where to go and what to see when he was in Fresno, described the visit just that way.
“As soon as I stepped on campus, I loved the atmosphere,” he said. “Me and my dad, we stepped into the weight room and the intensity — everyone was yelling, everyone was hyped. I just like it when everyone is hyped. I just looked at my dad and said, ‘This is the school for me.’ It was a great day.”
Watching film with linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson, Kaupiko also saw a glimpse of the Bulldogs’ past and perhaps his future. Kaupiko physically is the same size as former Bulldogs linebacker Jeff Allison, who last season racked up 132 total tackles and was the conference defensive player of the year.
“We were in there for a long time, watching film and how they practice,” Kaupiko said. “He told me I would be playing the Mike position, where I would play, where I would fit in. Just watching him explain where I would help the team was very surreal to me. I was ecstatic. I loved it.
“When he was showing us how the linebackers come downhill and how the linebackers flow and read, the pass coverages, it all fit. We were watching one of the middle linebackers there – he went to the league. We’re the same height and the same weight. I could see myself doing that. I could be him and making all those plays, too.”