Moliki Matavao has roots in Georgia. He still has family in Liberty County. That’s from when his grandfather served at Fort Stewart while his father was growing up.
It means that his grandmother, along with two of his uncles, still live in Hinesville.
The 4-star TE from Nevada has been to visit UGA before. That was last summer. When he released his top schools list earlier this month, the Bulldogs were on that list. They have been one of his top schools for some time.
“There’s no special reason in the day,” Matavao told DawgNation just after he released that May 27 date. “It is just when I feel like time will be right.”
Does he already have a decision made?
“I have not came up with a decision yet,” he told DawgNation. “But by then I will.”
When he told DawgNation prior to that final six reveal he was close to making a decision, he wasn’t kidding. Matavao has wanted to prioritize a normal senior season that would be stress-free from the twists and turns of a contested recruiting process.
“Those are the ones I will be visiting whenever this opens up and if it doesn’t open up I plan on pretty much committing either in May or June,” he said back on April 25.
Could the January 2021 early enrollee have made the choice back then?
“I have a good feel for a few of the schools,” he said in that same interview. “I would like to visit them and take my officials and visit them again. But if that’s not until let’s say September when I can visit, well I kind of want to relieve some stress off of me. If I feel confident enough to make the right decision, then I will.”
The Liberty High School (Henderson, Nev.) two-sport standout has plotted an admirable path after that.
“If it is the school that I am committed to, then I will definitely take the official visit but that will be it,” Matavao said. “Once I am committed, my word will be out there. I really don’t want to go against my word.”
RELATED: The first get to know Moliki Matavao story on DawgNation
His commitment will mean exactly that.
“That’s just kind of how I was raised,” Matavao said. “That’s my word and I’m giving my all to that school if I do commit.”
At that time, he was planning for contingencies, including continued restrictions on college visits in June or July.
“If it extends into my senior year, then I just kind of want to play football,” he said. “I want to have fun and soak up the game I love playing. If that’s committing in June or July without making my visits, then that is it. Whatever I feel I am comfortable with it having everything that I have learned and my own research and all and I’m confident in making the decision I am 100 percent committed to, then I will make it. I will make that commitment even without those visits.”
Editor’s note: The phonetics of his name go like this: MO-LI-KEE MA-TA-VOW
Check out his junior film below:
A few more quick things to know about Moliki Matavao
Let’s just tick them off here.
- Georgia plans to only take one tight end in this cycle and it is not certain what will develop here if Matavao and California 4-star TE Brock Bowers want to be in the class. Bowers is the nation’s No. 3 TE and No. 101 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite.
- The 6-foot-3 Bowers is the speedy (4.5 laser time in the 40) athlete. He’s smaller than Matavao. Matavao fits the need for the size and length athletes major programs want to sign at tight end. Bowers is more of a hybrid receiver sort. He’s that type of athlete.
- Geography and distance will not be a factor in Matavao’s decision.
- Matavao said he will not let a “first one to choose” situation alter where he’s at with his decision. He will follow his personal timetable. “My view of all of this is where I am going to be developed and where I am going to perform,” Matavao said. “It is more about what’s within that college and that program rather than any outside factors to me if that makes sense. That’s how I look at it.”
- When Hartley was in Las Vegas to check on 5-star signee Darnell Washington in the 2020 class, he was able to keep tabs on Matavao. Matavao said he saw Hartley at almost all of his home basketball games last November and December.
- Matavao had planned to visit Georgia back in April. That got shelved with everything else for Americans. It means his last visit to Athens was in the summer of 2019.
- Why did UGA still make the cut for his final six? “Just the relationship I have built with coach Hartley,” he said. “I really enjoy it. I’ve sat in a lot of meetings now with [new offensive coordinator] coach [Todd] Monken. Watching coach Monken’s offense work and I can totally see myself fitting in that offense. That’s pretty much really why I love Georgia.”
- Todd Hartley recruits him in a different way than most recruiters. Matavao gets a family feel from the Georgia tight ends coach.
- He caught 47 passes for 730 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. The athletic tight end ripped off an 80-yard touchdown catch among those grabs.
- Matavao keyed in on the clips of how new Georgia OC Todd Monken used Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Brate and Howard combined for 64 catches, 854 yards and 11 touchdowns. Howard is the well-known pro, but Brate actually caught six of those touchdowns. “I see myself as both an O.J. Howard and a Cameron Brate,” he said. “Getting it gritty down on the line. Win in the trenches and also separation and getting it deep and stretching the field kind of like what O.J. is about at that level. I can see myself in that offense fitting perfectly. Being in an ’11’ or ’12’ or ’13’ personnel set is something that I can see in that offense.”
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