Orange, California offensive lineman Faaenanuu Pepe has committed to the Owls. He is the first commitment of the 2021 Rice Football recruiting class.
The ink had hardly dried on the 2020 Rice Football recruiting class before the Owls turned their attention to 2021. On National Signing Day Rice added four new members to their 2020 class. They issued seven offers to 2021 players. One of those seven was Orange, California offensive lineman Faaenauu Pepe.
The first commitment of the 2021 Rice Football Recruiting class, Faaenauu Pepe is a big addition — literally. Some listings have put him in the neighborhood of 320 to 330 pounds. After walking past him on a visit he looks bigger than that. Pepe is a people mover in the trenches and the perfect man to kick off the Intellectual Brutality culture of the upcoming class.
Much like their strategy with their 2020 class, Rice was the first to offer Pepe. Before anyone else could throw their hat in the ring, Pepe made his pledge. For him, the decision was easy. “I felt like Rice was the perfect place for me because the environment felt ‘home-like'”, he said, adding that the coaches and staff “made it feel like I was apart of the family.”
Pepe prides himself on his technique, which he credits much of to his uncle Jesse Sapolu who spent 15 years in the NFL, all with the San Francisco 49ers. He was a four-time Super Bowl champion and went to two Pro Bowls.
Having Sapolu as a mentor from his early years was huge for Pepe’s growth. That skill, plus an innate aggressiveness that comes with spending time in the trenches make Pepe an exciting prospect. Rice football preaches an NFL Curriculum. Pepe has already been living it.
Pepe pushed people around in the trenches in high school. That’s what people of his caliber should do against the defensive lineman unlucky enough to line up in front of them. Then he took it a step further, depositing would-be tacklers on their backs with impressive regularity. He’ll be a force for Rice on the offensive line for years to come.