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Prior to his senior year of high school, Alo Falepule moved with his mother from Louisiana to Salt Lake City, and that ended up being good news for the Utah State football program.

That’s because the Aggies were able to take notice of the offensive lineman last summer when he attended their camp with his new team, West High School. Alo was now on USU’s radar and he pledged his commitment to the program on Monday.

“It means so much to me because I live with a single mom. My parents, they’re separated, but this means a lot to me because I get to stay close to family and also it’s a Division I school and they’re an upcoming program, where I can show off my talents and have a chance to start when I get there,” Alo said in an interview with The Herald Journal.

The 6-foot-3, 340-pounder plans on enrolling for fall semester and joining the Aggies prior to the start of fall camp. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when that happens is still up the air. Alo has yet to take an official or unofficial visit to Utah State due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Alo was also seriously considering scholarship offers from Sun Belt Conference programs South Alabama and Louisiana Lafayette, and also entertaining opportunities to play for defending national champion LSU and fellow SEC program Tennessee. The Salt Lake City resident had scholarship offers from a handful of other FBS programs, including Mountain West teams Air Force and Colorado State — his first Division I offer.

What ultimately gave Utah State the edge over these other teams?

“I just really liked the program as I went to the camp (last summer),” Alo said. “The players, they were talking to me, they were coaching me and they’re a really family-based program, and I just fell in love with it over all of the other programs. I really like it and I feel like I can make a big impact at Utah State.”

Playing for a program that always has an influx of Polynesian athletes was also enticing to Alo, who is of Tongan and Samoan descent. Alo quipped he is related to all of the Polynesians in Utah.

“That’s actually something new for me because we didn’t have a lot of Polynesians (in Louisiana), but as I moved out here I’m still learning the culture,” Alo said. “And they took me in as one of their own brothers and so I really liked that, and I think I’ll do good (at USU).”

Alo was born in Utah, moved to Louisiana when he was 3 and remained there up through his junior year of high school. He excelled as an offensive lineman at East Ascension High School, which is located in Gonzales — a city about 20 miles away from Baton Rouge, home of LSU. Alo was a first-team all-district selection as a sophomore and junior. He transitioned from guard to center prior to his junior season.

East Ascension went 12-3 during Alo’s junior year.

In his only season at West, Alo helped the Panthers double their win total from the 2018 campaign. West went 4-6 in Utah’s largest classification, including 2-4 in Region 2 play. Alo ended up manning the starting nose guard position in the Panthers’ 3-4 base defense.

“The funny thing is he never played defense until this (past) year,” West head coach Olosaa Solovi said. “He was being offered as a center, but when I asked for help on the other side of the ball, he jumped at the idea. He was willing to do anything to help our team.”

Solovi went on to say Alo “has a great family.”

No West statistics were available on maxpreps and the Deseret News had limited stats, but Alo earned first-team all-region honors in 2019, as did his younger brother Johnny. Johnny Alo shined for the Panthers as a running back and linebacker as a junior.

In Falepule Alo, the Aggies will get a player who can blow opposing defensive linemen off the ball.

“I’m very competitive and I really don’t care about stats or anything,” Alo said when asked about his biggest strengths. “Whoever’s in front of me, I have a job to do and I can move you.”

When asked about his goals at Utah State, Alo did not hesitate in his answer.

“First of all, I want to get my degree,” said Alo, who competed in track & field throughout high school and was playing rugby his senior year. “That’s the most important thing to me over football (because) football won’t last forever. The goal is to keep going in my (football) career, but I know that one mistake, one injury (and) it will be out the door, so the first (goal) is to get my degree. And then if I keep working hard, work with the coaches, then maybe one day I’ll be in the league (NFL).”

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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