There was a time when Ulumoo “MJ” Ale thought he was going to be the next Mike Tyson.
And now, he might be the next Lincoln Kennedy.
The 6-foot-7, 330-pound offensive tackle from Fife High School announced Friday night on Twitter that he was giving an oral commitment to the University of Washington.
And he put on a helmet and pads for the first time in his life until two years ago, when he moved to the South Sound from Australia.
Did he envision it would lead to Pac-12 football scholarships?
“Definitely not. No, definitely, definitely not,” Ale laughed. “I was just in school and I love sports, so I figured I would keep busy by joining some clubs and trying football. I just fell in love with it.”
It isn’t a surprising development since he is pretty close to current Huskies’ starting right tackle Kaleb McGary, who also attended Fife.Ale said he got in touch with McGary early in his recruitment for advice.
Then he and his father, a pastor at Samoan First Congregational Church in Tacoma, met UW coach Chris Petersen and Ale was hooked.
“He’s just a really inspirational guy,” Ale said. “There aren’t many coaches like him. We spoke a couple of times about his philosophy on being built for life. He’s definitely someone I could see myself playing for and one of the main reasons I committed to Washington.”
Ale’s first offer was from Utah. He attended the “Big Dawgs” camp at the UW in June.
Fife coach Kent Nevin said Ale will go into the program as an offensive tackle, but the UW has discussed the possibility of him playing on the interior at guard.
Loaded with potential, Ale has not played football for very long. He comes from a boxing and rugby background back in Australia and was born in Samoa and he said the only thing he knew about football was that they wore helmets and shoulder pads.
Ale tried track and field when he and his family moved here and Nevin persuaded him to try football. Last year he was selected as the 2A South Puget Sound League Mountain division’s defensive lineman of the year and a first-team offensive lineman. He also earned a spot on The News Tribune’s All-Area team as an offensive lineman.
Ale said Nevin has been the biggest influence on him learning the game in such a short time period.
“That would definitely be Coach Nevin,” Ale said. “He’s been there with me since Day 1. Even when I was on JV he was helping me learn my technique. Not long after that I found myself on the varsity level and he got me to where I am.”
Ale becomes the 12th prep player to commit to the Huskies for the 2018 class — and third offensive lineman behind Arizona standout Matteo Mele and Texas product Victor Curne.
“I’m just very grateful and thankful,” Ale said. “if a kid from Australia can do it, then anyone can do it.”