Pomona (Calif.) outside linebacker Azeem Victor made a verbal commitment to San Diego State just a few weeks ago and despite picking up a number of new offers, he is sticking to his promise.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound prospect has caught the eye of schools all throughout the West Coast in recent weeks and has picked up offers from Hawaii, Colorado State, Nevada and most recently Washington. The Huskies became the first Pac-12 school to offer Victor on Thursday evening, further confirming both the level of talent Victor has and the knack for evaluating prospects that SDSU recruiting coordinator Tony White does so well for the Aztecs.
"Coach Steve Sarkisian and all the other coaches talked with Azeem last night," said Victor's father, Mike. "They want him to visit at whatever point is good for us and the linebackers coach is going to come down next Thursday to see him. Azeem is committed to San Diego State and people have some ground to make up if they want to recruit him. Obviously when you get an offer from Washington you got to take a look at it, but he has such a great relationship with White.
"More than anything, the thing that makes me happy about the Pac-12 schools coming is that it validates Tony's ability to find talent. I've known him since he was at the University of New Mexico and he knows that if I tell him things are going to go a certain way, he believes me."
Pomona defensive coordinator John Brown kept Victor under wraps until a few games into his senior season were through and then released film to Arizona State, San Diego State, Utah and Colorado. Once White got his hands on the tape, he saw high potential in the OLB and scheduled a visit for the SDSU-Hawaii game. Because of those quick actions, the relationship that they built early on is going to keep Azeem an Aztec no matter what big-name program offers.
"Some recruiters at different schools are just opening up their email and asking about Azeem, but Coach White contacted us immediately," his father said. "We came down to the Hawaii game on Saturday and I asked Tony if I should pick up my Aztec gear and he said, 'If I was a gambling man, you will.'"
SDSU offered a scholarship two days later and the rest is pretty much history.
Defensive graduate assistant Zach Arnett and White were able to bring out the personality in Victor -- who carries himself around with a quiet, silent-but-deadly aura to him -- and that was enough to earn his commitment.
"Anybody that can come in and talk to a kid that doesn't talk very much and open up very much is all right with me," his father said. "He's a great kid, but you pretty much got to pull at his teeth to get him to talk. He's quiet, really quiet. But the cool thing about Azeem is that he doesn't need to be vocal, he speaks with his actions. Especially on the field, the way he plays is pretty violent but people respect him."
His father went on to tell a fascinating anecdote:
"I fix his lunch every single day," he said. "I want him to eat and get a certain number of calories in so he can stay strong. But let me tell you what kind of kid he is and why he makes me so proud: he gives his food away to his teammates because some of those guys don't have food to eat at home. That's the kind of kid he is. He's a real good get for San Diego State because he's just a good guy like that."
The Aztecs initially began to pursue Victor based off his athletic ability, but it's safe to say that once the coaching staff got to eyeball him in person and see what type of genuinely nice kid he is, it was enough for SDSU to pull the trigger.
Now it looks like Victor may eventually become the biggest under-the-radar recruiting steal out west for the Aztecs, all because of one thing: relationships, from the graduate assistants all the way up to the man in charge.
"Azeem just has such a nice relationship with Coach White and Arnett," his father said. "I also like Coach (Rocky) Long because he said something that really impressed me. He told me about the kid who took three weeks off because of personal reasons (Dontrell Onuoha) and now Coach Long is sitting him out for three weeks. That's big-time, man. You don't see that a lot these days. So I like Coach Long, we plan to meet him again this Saturday at the UNLV game."
Victor wasn't made available to speak with AztecSportsReport.com after receiving the Washington offer but he was able to clear everything up via text message Friday morning.
"Just letting you know that nothing has changed on my end," Victor said. "I am flattered by all of the offers. However, I will see everybody on the Mesa in 2013."