The Cougars benefitted from Joe Salave'a's Samoan ties, but even though he's now at Oregon, they will continue to recruit the islands

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Even though former Washington State defensive line coach Joe Salave’a is now on the Oregon staff, the Cougars will not stop recruiting the islands. Salave’a, a native Samoan, is credited with opening a pipeline for WSU between American Samoa and Pullman, and he routinely made about three recruiting trips a year to Samoa.

“We’re gonna continue to recruit Hawaii and American Samoa,” WSU Football Chief of Staff Dave Emerick said this week. “It’s about relationships and people being comfortable with you and your school. Obviously Joe was a big name and he had contacts there, but at the same time, we still have a bunch of kids on our team that those kids (in Samoa) know.” National Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman thinks the Cougars will continue to have success recruiting the islands even though they no longer have any full-time assistant coaches who have ties to Samoa.

“WSU had success there even before Joe Salave’a. The job gets tougher for them because they don’t have any true Hawaiian or Samoan ties for the coaches, and granted there was some stuff going on this fall that may hurt,” Huffman said, referring to the controversy that broke out in September over perceived incidents of racial profiling against Samoan football players. “But they have players on the team from those places that kids will reach out to. The bridge has been built. They just have to keep driving over it.”

Salave’a was instrumental in the recruitment of numerous Samoan players during his five seasons at WSU. Samoa natives Destiny Vaeao, who’s now with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Robert Barber, who started at nose tackle last season, were the first two recruits who signed with WSU when Salave’a joined the staff in December 2011.

Salave’a also had a strong hand in the recruitment  of current defensive lineman Dan Ekuale (Pago Pago, American Samoa), linebacker Frankie Luvu (Pago Pago, American Samoa), defensive end Hercules Mata’afa (Lahaina, Hawaii) and Logan Tago (Fagasa, American Samoa).

Jeff Phelps was hired as Salave’a’s replacement as defensive line coach, but Emerick said this week that the Cougars have not yet determined whether Phelps will take Salave’a’s place as their main recruiter in the islands.

In the interim period between Salave’a’s departure and Phelps’ hire, defensive assistant David Lose was temporarily elevated to a full-time assistant coaching position to allow him to go on the road to recruit for WSU, and one of his stops was to Hawaii. However, with Phelps now on staff, Lose can no longer travel to recruit for WSU.