Foketi to Make Early Start

Slow and warm, unlike what he was introduced to in Manhattan during his January recruiting visit to the K-State campus. To this day, Foketi has never been farther east than when he arrived at the Kansas City International airport. "It was snowing ... all white outside," said Foketi, who is the son of Salesi and Lina Foketi. "It was only the second time I had been in snow." While Tonga is known as a rugby country, Foketi didn't pick up football until his freshman year at Sultana High School in Hesperia, Calif. His next education/athletic stop would be Mt. San Antonio College, where he was a three-star offensive lineman. He helped his club to a 25-3 two-year record, which included a 13-1 national championship season in 2009. When recruiting visits started on the Mt. San Antonio campus, Foketi ironically talked to the offensive line coaches of Kansas State (Charlie Dickey) and UCLA (Bob Palcic) on the exact same day. Saying, "I always wanted to leave the state," Foketi chose Kansas State, and Saturday he will play the UCLA Bruins. While Foketi will be at left tackle for K-State, one of his old Mt. San Antonio teammates, Eddie Williams, will be starting at right guard for UCLA. "It'll be fun to see him again even though we really won't be going head-to-head," said Foketi. Foketi played at 330 pounds last year, but looks a slimmish 300 now at K-State. He says, "I don't know what happened. I didn't try to lose weight, but it just happened. Now I'd like to add a little." While not arriving on the K-State campus until this summer, Foketi received the opportunity to play early due to an injury to projected starter Zach Hanson. "Manase's done well. I like the progress he's made and how quickly he has picked things up," said K-State coach Bill Snyder. "He established a background in the system during two-a-days because of how the players worked with him. Athletically, we like him." RARE BCS START: Saturday will mark only the fourth time in Kansas State history that the Wildcats will open a season at home against a non-conference BCS opponent. The others came in 1926 against Texas, 1961 against Indiana and 1982 against Kentucky. Kansas State won all three of those games. ABC TEAM: The ABC broadcast team Saturday will include Carter Blackburn, former University of Washington and NFL quarterback Brock Huard, as well as former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti.  We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.