Mike Iupati, San Fran 49ers and University of Idaho
Mike Iupati was named to Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writer’s NFL All Rookie Team this week. The guard for the San Francisco 49ers started every game in his rookie season, a rarity for an NFL offensive lineman.
Iupati was drafted in the first round out of the University of Idaho last spring, the 17th player selected. Scouts Inc’s Matt Williamson thinks he would have be picked much higher if they drafted again based on first year performances. He rated Iupati the 6th best rookie in the NFL this season, calling him an outstanding run blocker, “a finisher who enjoys burying his opponent”. http://sports.espn.go.com
In Moscow, Idaho people around the University of Idaho are understandably excited about this latest news.
“We are very proud of Big Mike. I am excited for his start and what I am sure will be an All Pro future. The best part is the first class man he continues to be,” said Robb Akey, Idaho football coach.
We’ve learned that football is just one dimension of the 6 foot 5, 330 pound native of American Samoa. His story is important not only because of his football success, but also his academic achievement . After playing at Western High School in Anaheim California, Iupati was not considered among the top college offensive linemen prospects in the nation nor were his grades very good. He struggled academically, caused by a language barrier, and was going to attend a junior college to remedy his grade issue as well as develop as a football player.
But he was recruited to Idaho, which seems like a long ways away to a family-centered Samoan teenager in Southern California. But what a move it was. He blossomed into a star, led the Vandals to the Humanitarian Bowl in 2009 and was voted on to the Western Athletic Conference All -Decade Team. He also overcame his academic challenges in high school and earned his degree from the University of Idaho.