Aug 22, 2013
By Christopher Miller
OhioBobcats.com - Staff Writer
A college football team's ability to recruit anywhere goes hand in hand with the success a team has on the field.
In 2012, the Ohio University football team had plenty of success on the field as it opened the year 7-0, cracked into the Top 25 rankings and captured their second-consecutive bowl victory. The result of that success was the addition of Cleon Aloese.
On February 6, 2013, Aloese inked a National Letter of Intent to play college football for Ohio University. The addition of the 6 foot, 296 pound a defensive lineman from Tafuna High School in Pago Pago, American Samoa proved the Bobcats could recruit anywhere.
American Samoa is a small territory located in the South Pacific Ocean, made up of five main islands, surrounded by beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. American Samoa has just under 57,000 people, with its capital city Pago Pago having just over 4,100 people.
In size, American Samoa has a total land area of 76.1 square miles which is just above the size of Washington D.C., and far less than that Athens County, Ohio, which comes in at 508.44 square miles.
Despite its very small size, American Samoa has a rich football culture. It has been estimated that a Samoan male is anywhere from 40 to 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than a non-Samoan American. Professionally, there are about 30 players with Samoan decent currently playing in the NFL, most of which are from American Samoa.
In addition to that, there are more than 200 Samoans playing NCAA Division I football. Aloese was recruited by defensive line coach Jesse Williams, who joined the Bobcats' staff prior to the 2012 season.
"Cleon is a very tough, physical player who always works hard and has great discipline," Williams said. "He is a very likeable guy and a joy to coach every day."
Aloese, a member of the All-Polynesian All-American Team during his senior year at Tafuna said that Ohio University was a fit for him for many different reasons.
"Not only is the team very good, with a lot of talent coming back this year, but I plan to study communications, and Ohio has an excellent program," Aloese said. "I also loved the campus when I visited and I have family in the Dayton area. Ohio was the perfect fit for me."
Aloese's trip to Athens in July was an advantage in itself, the trip took more than 30 hours by plane. After living in Athens for about a month now, he says he loves it.
Outside of football, he is enjoying all the new friends he has made. Although it is tough for him to be so far from his family, he is getting used to living on the mainland as well as the different culture that comes along with it.
Cleon says he is not surprised that he ended up playing football and going to school here. This is a similar path to that which his older brother Carrington took. Carrington is a sophomore defensive lineman at Alcorn State University, while his other brother Christopher is in the military. Cleon said that his parents always placed a lot of importance on all three children getting the best education possible. Hi and that has led him to Ohio University.
Although it is not certain exactly what Aloese's role will be on this year's team, coach Williams said he would not be surprised if he made an immediate impact as a freshman.
As far as Aloese is concerned, he is very excited to start the season on a national stage, and experience college football for himself. But, more importantly he just wants to improve his game, get better and help his teammates win as many games as possible.
As Ohio football heads toward the end of fall camp, there is no way to tell how the season will unfold for Aloese or the rest of the Bobcats but expectations are high and the motto is clear: Finish, No Regrets!