For someone as big as Tanoa Togiai, his national exposure has been relatively small.
The 6-foot-6, 295-pound defensive tackle has a nondescript social media presence. He doesn't do many interviews — his coaches at Rigby (Idaho) High School aren't even sure the senior has his own cell phone. His scholarship offers aren't generally well known because he doesn't broadcast them. He doesn't live in a recruiting hotbed.
Thus, Togiai's addition to Nebraska's list of official visitors this weekend came as something of a surprise Thursday to those outside the lineman's immediate circle. Fresh off a state championship in double overtime last week, the 2020 standout will be in Lincoln to continue what has been a quiet recruiting process.
But his coaches warn his on-field play is anything but laid back. His defensive line coach, Vic Martinez, said Togiai "came out of his shell" as a senior. In a rivalry game late last year, he exploded through the line on a key fourth down from the 1-yard line for a tackle for loss. That momentum carried through the offseason, as he began working toward a senior year where he earned first-team all-state honors.
Rigby defensive coordinator Brook Talbot pointed to a game in the state semis against the defending champs when Togiai set the tone by blowing up a running back trying to sprint through the middle. That team ran plays away from the lineman — who primarily played nose — and outside the tackles the rest of the way.
"For us this year, he was unstoppable," Talbot said. "He was such a huge force in what we did. Nobody could block him. There wasn't a center in the league or the state that could block him one on one."
Nebraska defensive line coach Tony Tuioti was in touch with the prospect throughout the season.
Togiai has already taken official visits to Utah (Sept. 6) and Kansas State (Oct. 18). He holds other offers from UCLA, Colorado and BYU. Coaches say the two offers from eastern schools that interest him are Nebraska and Virginia. Now he'll get a chance to see what the Huskers are all about.
The cousin of Ohio State sophomore D-lineman Tommy Togiai was recently invited to participate in the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii. Rigby coaches say their lineman likely won't sign anywhere until February as he plays out the rest of his officials.
Nebraska currently has 14 commits in its 2020 class. Togiai is part of a defense-themed weekend of visitors that also includes prep D-end Jimari Butler from Mobile (Alabama) Murphy and junior college players in inside linebacker Eteva Mauga (Diablo Valley College in California), defensive end Jordon Riley (Garden City CC in Kansas) and D-end Pheldarius Payne (Lackawanna CC in Pennsylvania).