In order to get from Pocatello, Idaho to Columbus, Ohio, you generally have to fly in to Salt Lake City first and then catch the next leg of the flight path on your journey to Ohio’s capital city.
It’s not necessarily easy, and it certainly isn’t quick. But it works.
Another way to get from Pocatello to Columbus is to be one of the best high school football players in the country, which is what Tommy Togiai did, though the path isn’t any easier.
Togiai is now a freshman defensive tackle for Ohio State, having graduated from Highland High School in Pocatello five months early in order to enroll at OSU in January and go through winter workouts and spring camp.
He’s a long way from home — about 1,800 miles — but he never let distance keep him from finding the best place for him.
It was midway through high school when Ohio State began showing interest.
“It was after my sophomore season in the spring time going into my junior year,” Togiai said. “That’s when they first contacted me to see if I would have any interest in coming to Ohio State. I told them I definitely would be able to keep Ohio State in my mind and I was very interested in the offer.”
It was also at that point when his family grew a little concerned with the possibility of Togiai moving so far away, but he calmed any fears pretty quickly.
“At first my parents and my family were scared, saying ‘That’s really far away,'” he said. “But I was like, ‘You never know, it could be the best opportunity for me.’ And that turned out to be true.”
Ohio State wasn’t the only school recruiting Togiai. He also held offers from Michigan, USC, California, Oregon, Penn State, TCU, Washington, and many others.
Togiai could have gone anywhere in the country, and places much closer to home, but he ultimately decided that Ohio State was the best place for him.
So what’s it like to have OSU head coach Urban Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson putting the full-court press on you?
“That was the thing I really liked too, they didn’t really put that much pressure on me,” he said. “That was the big thing, I really took that to heart. They didn’t put pressure on me to let them know where we stand. They never really asked about that, and I really liked that. They didn’t put pressure on me to make a decision.”
By now, you have probably seen the video of Togiai committing to Ohio State during an in-home visit. Johnson and Meyer both shot out of their seats and bear hugs were the order of the day. Because of how close Togiai and his family had gotten with the OSU coaches, there was a pretty good idea of what the reaction was going to be, which is also why they decided to record it.
“Yeah, when I was going through it, it was just a special moment for me and my family,” he said. “Especially their reaction was priceless. It says everything about how they recruit their players, they’re all in to the recruiting. Once they really get to know you, they’re all in. And not just into me but into my family too.”