One weak spot that has plagued the Arizona Wildcats in recent years has been the defensive line. Fans remember multiple instances of the D-line getting manhandled by opposing offensive linemen and just flat-out getting overpowered.
However, times seem to be changing.
This year the line looks like nothing the ‘Cats, or we, have seen in some time. With around 11 scholarship players and five players over 300 lbs, Arizona finally has depth and size. And it would like to keep it that way.
Enter Simote Pepa. The 3-star defensive tackle from Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah really started to see his recruitment with the Wildcats pick up during the spring evaluation period in May.
Read on and see what he has to say about his recruitment, Arizona and more.
AZ Desert Swarm: How has your offseason gone so far?
Simote Pepa: “My offseason is going really well. Just finished up summer camp. And now I’ve just been hitting up the gym and trying to get in better shape for the season. I’m just fixing up my technique here and there.”
ADS: It seems like you are really working on your game and body for the season. On that note, what camps, if any, have you attended?
Pepa: “I didn’t attend any camps this summer. I’ve been busy helping my coach with the team and preparing for the season.”
ADS: Moving on to your recruitment, how many offers are you up to and from whom?
Pepa: “Eleven: BYU, Utah, Utah State, Virginia, Arizona, Oregon, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Washington, Washington State and Vanderbilt. I might be missing some, though.”
ADS: Out of those schools, who is standing out the most or recruiting you the hardest?
Pepa: “Utah, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, Nebraska, BYU and Vanderbilt.”
ADS: How did your offer from Arizona come about?
Pepa: “One day after school lifting, the D-line coach from Arizona (Iona Uiagalelei) came to visit. He told me he’s been checking me out and watching me closely and liked the way I played. That’s when he offered me at school.”
ADS: How is your relationship with Coach Uiagalelei? How often would you say you guys communicate?
Pepa: “Our relationship is pretty good. He’s coached a couple of guys that I know. And he checks up on me here and there.”
ADS: What would you say your interest level is in the ‘Cats? Are you thinking of taking a visit?
Pepa: “Yeah, Arizona is still in my head. And yeah I might take an unofficial visit there.”
ADS: Have you taken any visits up to this point? What future visits would you like to take?
Pepa: “The only unofficial visits I’ve been on have been Utah, Wisconsin and USC.”
ADS: When it comes time to decide, do you have a date in mind that you’d like to make your commitment?
Pepa: “Probably after the season on signing day.”
Pepa has a high motor that he plays with and it certainly helps him chase down plays. He has a quick first step and has violent hands. It also helps that he a large and powerful human being.
He does need a little work on his pad level and could lose 10-15 pounds. As mentioned above, he wanted to get into better shape for the season and has been working on his body.
Pepa would be a solid addition for the ‘Cats as it would help UA continue to increase the size along the defensive line. He would also help further the re-establishment of the Polynesian Pipeline into Tucson that became famous during the Desert Swarm/Tomey years and even after into the mid-2000s.
He has played in 15 games in his career and has racked up 83 tackles, seven sacks, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Below are his junior highlights.