By Joe Davidson
Nifae Lealao expressed equal parts pride and relief Friday afternoon. He's going to be a Stanford Cardinal. Someone fit the young man with the largest red sweat top to be found.
A 6-foot-6, 290-pound national recruit lineman for Capital Christian High School, Lealao announced that he will head to The Farm via scholarship in fall 2014. It will become a binding agreement in February with a national letter of intent signature, but the verbal pledge adds a sense of finality and normalcy, Lealao said.
"It's more so a big stress reliever, a lot off my shoulders, a breath of fresh air," Lealao said of his decision. "It's not set in stone (until the letter of intent signature), but I'm at the point where I know the recruiting mail will stop and I don't have to worry about all the calls."
Not that Lealao is complaining, instead he beams about his opportunity to study and play football at one of the elite schools in the country. He wants to major in business with perhaps a minor in vocal musical performance. Lealao, you see, isn't just a big body who ransacks foes in football. He's a gifted singer who has performed in school events, at banquets, in church and has sung the national anthem on occasion.
Lealao said he started singing when he was 3.
"It wasn't fantastic when I started, but my voice was good enough where people's ears didn't bleed," Lealao said.
Lealao is an honors student taking AP courses in calculus, history and government. He said looks forward to the academic boot camp that is Stanford, playing in BCS bowls and perhaps playing basketball, too.
Lealao was a key player for Capital Christian's Sac-Joaquin Section championship basketball team that reached the 2013 Northern California semifinals. He will play basketball this winter, saying, "It's the complete experience of being a teenager."
Lealao narrowed his college choices to Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Utah and Ole Miss.
He follows in the recent footsteps of area national recruits who accepted scholarships out of high school, including: Vei Moala (Grant) and Stephen Moore (Elk Grove) at Cal; Gavin Andrews (Granite Bay) at Oregon State; Austin Wentworth (Whitney) at Fresno State; Solomon Kafu (Rio Linda) at BYU; Arik Armstead (Pleasant Grove) at Oregon; and Eddie Vanderdoes (Placer) at UCLA.
Gordon King of Bella Vista was a Stanford star lineman in the 1970s and a first-round draft pick of the New York Giants in 1978. Jason Fisk of Davis excelled on the defensive line for Stanford in the 1990s and played 12 NFL seasons.