Just as he was coming out of high school, Breiden Fehoko is once again a wanted man.
The former Texas Tech defensive tackle told ESPN he’s heard from more than 20 schools since announcing on Jan. 19 his intentions to transfer following two seasons with the Red Raiders.
In fact, the day after he was granted his release, an assistant from Ole Miss showed up in Lubbock to start recruiting him. Fehoko, the No. 51 overall recruit in the ESPN 300 in 2015, will be a significant post-signing day addition for somebody later this spring.
“It makes me feel like a kid in a candy store again,” Fehoko said. “I appreciate it. Whether a team went 12-0 or 0-12 last year, I’m just looking for the right fit for me.”
Fehoko, a 25-game starter in his two seasons at Tech, said the long list of schools that have already expressed interest includes Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Missouri, Ole Miss, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Nebraska, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Louisville, Virginia, BYU and Hawaii.
He won’t transfer to another Big 12 school, but the Hawaii native said he’s open to playing anywhere if the fit is right. He’s already planning to take an official visit to Ole Miss at the end of March and plans to schedule several more visits this spring. He’s finishing this semester at Texas Tech before enrolling at his next school in the summer.
Fehoko called transferring from Texas Tech a “personal decision.” He was the program’s highest-rated signee under coach Kliff Kingsbury and had followed in the footsteps of his brothers, Sam and V.J., who both played for the program.
“I just felt like I had to make the move,” Fehoko said. “I was in the right place at the wrong time. I love Texas Tech. I love Lubbock with all my heart. I poured my heart and soul into this program for two seasons. But I just felt like, to further my career and the development of myself as a football player, I felt I had to be somewhere else.”
Fehoko praised Kingsbury for being understanding and supportive of his decision and said leaving won’t be easy. He knows it won’t be easy to sit out the 2017 season as a transfer, but he intends to embrace the year of practice.
“It’s a big year for me,” Fehoko said. “I know I won’t get to play this year, but I think it’s probably the biggest year of my four years because this is a make-or-break year. If I do go to a school that helps develop me and puts me in the right system, it could go to my advantage. If I don’t work out as hard, 2018 is going to be a struggle for me. I’m approaching this year as if I’m playing this year.”
Fehoko has no idea where he’ll end up a few months from now. The initial feedback has certainly been encouraging, but he also acknowledged he’s taking a risk by making the move.
“I could be right, I could be wrong,” Fehoko said. “In a few years, we’ll be able to find out that answer.”