Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ags’ Tai Wesley to play in all-star game

First published Mar 30 2011 10:30AM
Updated Mar 30, 2011 10:30AM

Utah State’s Tai Wesley will play Friday in the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) Reese’s All-Star Game Friday at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

The event, which showcases the top college seniors and serves as a tip-off for the Final Four weekend, will start at 3:35 p.m. MDT and will be televised nationally on TruTV.

Wesley, a 6-foot-7 senior All-American Forward from Provo, led Utah state to a 30-4 record and its fourth-straight Western Athletic Conference regular season championship this year as well as the Aggies’ second straight WAC tournament title. He was the WAC Player of the Year and led the Aggies in scoring and rebounding with 14.8 points and eight rebounds per game.

Wesley will play for the West All-Stars, which will be coached by former Oklahoma head coach Billy Tubbs. Other members of the West All-Stars include College of Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock, Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried, San Diego State’s Malcolm Thomas, Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas, North Texas; Tristan Thompson, USC’s Alex Stephenson, St. Mary’s Mickey McConnell, Northern Arizona’s Cameron Jones, and Texas’ Gary Johnson.

The East All-Star team will be coached by Bill Foster, who led Duke to the NCAA title game in 1978. Members of the East squad include St. John’s Dwight hardy, Temple’s Lavoy Allen, Pittsburgh’s Brad Wanamaker, Mississippi’s Chris Warren, Georgetown’s Austin Freeman, Illinois’ Mike Davis, Pittsburgh’s Gary McGhee, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, American’s Vlad Moldoveanu, and Marquette’s Jimmy Butler.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lini Koria Arizona Wildcats Softball

Carson, Calif.
High School:
San Pedro

2010: Honorable mention All-Pac-10 performer in 57 games started; 48 as the DP, eight at catcher and one at first base ... The power hitting utility player crushed 17 home runs and 57 RBI despite missing nine games due... The 17 home runs ranked third on the team and tied for 19th in Arizona history for home runs in a season ... Named Pac-10 Player of the Week, May 3-9 when she had three multi-hit games against Oregon ... Hit two home runs and six RBI in the series, including a five RBI performance in the final game vs. the Ducks, one of two 5+ RBI games for the sophomore ... Batted .450 (9-for-20) with bases loaded, including five grand slams ... Had 15 multi-RBI games ... Was hit by seven pitches, more than any of her teammates ... Was sixth in the batting order in 50 of her 57 games, but saw time in the fifth, seventh and eighth slots as well ... Had eight doubles, including two May 7, vs. Oregon ... Tucson Regional: Logged only two hits in 11 at bats, but one which will be remembered for a long time; after Hofstra had taken the lead in the top of the 12th inning, Arizona rallied to tie, and after Hofstra showed Koria no respect in intentionally walking two batters to get to her, Koria nailed a walk-off grand slam to send Arizona to the super regionals ... Tucson Super Regional: Drove home the eventual game-winning RBI in the sixth inning in the first game ... Went 2-for-3 in the series and was walked three times, twice driving in a run ... WCWS: Hitless in her first three games, she battled back to hit safely in the final four and collect three RBI and a home run.

2009: Started 58 games as the designated player and two behind the plate ... Named to the Pac-10 All Freshman team, and was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection ... Hit Arizona's first home run of the record-breaking campaign against UTEP on Feb. 6 ... Finished the season with 12 home runs, among the top six for a newcomer in Arizona history ... Credited with five at-bats in two games: at South Florida on Feb. 13 and at Texas A&M on Feb 27 ... Scored a season-high three runs against UTEP on March 4 ... Scattered three hits in three games, including a trio of safeties against UT Martin in the Regional round ... Hit a season-high six RBI against UTEP on March 4 ... Showed her quick wheels when she hit one of UA's four triples on the season against Utah on Feb. 22 ... Drew three walks against Texas on March 13 ... Had a 3-for-4 day against Oregon State on the final day of the season, hitting a towering home run while driving in three runs ... Louisville, Ky. Regional: Was perfect on the day (3-for-3) with an RBI and two doubles against UT Martin ... She also scored two runs on the day ... Batted .500 (2-for-4) against Louisville with an RBI ... Laid down a sac and hit safely against Purdue ... Palo Alto, Calif. Super Regional: Hit 2-for-4 with two RBI in game one, went 2-for-3 with a run scored in game two, then drew a walk and had a hit in deciding game three ... WCWS: Tallied one of Arizona's five hits against Alabama.

High School: San Pedro, Calif., High School, 2008 ... Played four years of varsity softball under Anthony Dobra ... Was the California HS career home run record holder with 45, a mark that was broken by 2010 UA freshman Baillie Kirker ... 2007 and 2008 EA Sports All-American first team ... 2006, `07 and `08 Marine League player of the year ... Was named to four first teams in every year of high school: the L.A. City, all-Marine League, Daily Breeze all-area and the Los Angeles Times ... Led her team to three consecutive L.A. City championships in her sophomore through senior seasons ... Played with the USA Athletics, Orange County Batbusters and Worth Firecrackers travel teams, where she won four national championships including 2007 ASA Gold 18-under national championship with teammates Lauren Schutzler and Kristen Arriola.

Ashley Tuiasosopo University of Washington Softball

Woodinville, Wash.
High School:

Photo Gallery

At Washington
2010 (Junior):
Appeared in 16 games, starting in three ... batted .222, collecting four hits in 18 at bats ... hit one double and three RBIs ... scored four runs and had a slugging percentage of .278 ... had a two-run double to end the game with an 11-2 win over Seattle (3/7), earning her career-high of two hits ... received the Husky Coaches Award.

2009 (Sophomore): Appeared in 12 games ... collected one hit in five at bats ... scored three runs and drove in another and also walked once ... scored a run in the final inning of UW's 6-1, 15-inning win in the deciding game of the NCAA Regionals. .. entered the game as a pinch-runner and scored the fifth and final run of the game ... had a pinch-hit RBI single in UW's 16-3 victory over Utah State, her second career RBI ... later came around to score ... saw her first action of the season against Utah (2/8) in the Red Desert Classic, grounding out in her only plate appearance ... walked in her only plate appearance in the Cathedral City Classic against Mississippi (2/21) ... hit by pitch in her first Pac-10 plate appearance against Oregon State (5/1).

2008 (Freshman)
Started five games, including three as the DP and two in right field ... second on the team with 15 appearances as a substitute or pinch-runner ... hit .133 with five runs scored and one RBI ... drove in a run during her first appearance of the year against UMKC on Feb. 15 ... made her first career start against Portland State on Feb. 29 out in right field, but did not bat ... in her second start, hit 2-for-3 and scored twice vs. Idaho State at the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament in Honolulu ... picked up her first career hit and run scored in the game ... scored a run against Hawaii in the title game of the tournament (Mar. 9) ... scored a run as a pinch runner at Arizona State (Apr. 12) ... scored a run as a pinch runner at Oregon (May 9).

High School/Club
A two-year letterwinner, and a team captain as a senior, at Woodinville High School ... helped WHS to a third-place finish at state in 2006 and a fifth-place finish in 2007 ... led the Falcons to consecutive league titles as a junior and senior ... named the team's Most Inspirational Player as a senior, and named Most Improved and won the Coaches Award as a junior ... played summer ball in 2007 for the Washington Lady Hawks under head coach J.T. D'Amico ... also lettered three years in basketball at WHS ... as a senior, was the team's Co-MVP, named Most Inspirational and won the Coaches Award ... a two-time Second-Team All-KingCo pick, and a two-time team Defensive Player of the Year.

Daughter of Tina and Manu Tuiasosopo ... father played football at UCLA and in the NFL, including five seasons for the Seattle Seahawks (1979-1983) ... Has one older sister, Leslie and three older brothers, Marques, Zach and Matt ... Marques (1997-2001) and Zach (2001-05) played football at UW and Marques has gone on to play in the NFL ... Leslie was a standout volleyball player for the Huskies (1995-2000) and now is an assistant volleyball coach at UW ... Matt plays in the Seattle Mariners minor league system ... Ashley Pauline Tuiasosopo was born in Bellevue, Wash.

NFL Players Born in Tonga

NFL Players Born in Tonga

Folau, Spencer
Heimuli, Lakei
Kaufusi, Steve
Malamala, Siupeli
Maumau, Vili
Sikahema, Vai
Tuipulotu, Peter

Spencer Sione Folau (born April 5, 1973 in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga) was an American football offensive lineman in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens 1997-2000, Miami Dolphins 2001, New Orleans Saints 2002-2004, and Washington Redskins 2005. He was a member of the 2000 Ravens team that won Super Bowl XXXV.

Lakei Heimuli was born on June 24, 1965 on the island of Vavaʻu in Tonga. He is a former American football running back in the National Football League. He played one season with the Chicago Bears (1987).

Sitiveni P. Kaufusi (born October 17, 1963 in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga) is a former American football defensive lineman in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1989-1990.

He also played college football at Brigham Young University and attended junior college at Dixie State.

Currently he is the defensive line coach at Brigham Young University. He is also in charge of recruiting relations with Polynesian players. Kaufusi is one of four Tongans who currently coach in Division I Football. The others are Kalani Sitake at Utah, Viliami Tuivai at Boise State, and Ilaisa Tuiaki Utah State Aggies. Will Kofe of Sacramento State, Alfred Pupunu of Southern Utah, and Sitiveni Tuivai of Southern Utah coach in Division I-AA now known as Division I-FCS.

Steve's son Bronson, a sophomore defensive lineman/tight end at Timpview High School in Provo, Utah verbally committed to attend BYU in 2010.

Siupeli Malamala (born January 15, 1969) is a former professional American football offensive lineman. He played offensive tackle and offensive guard in the NFL for the New York Jets from 1992–1999. He played in 62 games throughout his professional career.
Viliami Maumau (born April 3, 1975) is a Tongan-born player of American football. Born on Niuafo'ou, Tonga, he played as a defensive tackle for the University of Colorado and was a 3rd Team All Big 12 selection as a junior where he was a teammate of Chris Naeole. Maumau attended St. Louis School in Honolulu and was a teammate of Olin Kreutz and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala. He also played one year of NFL football for the Carolina Panthers in 1999.

Vai S. Sikahema (born August 29, 1962 in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga) is a Tongan former American football player. The first Tongan ever to play in the National Football League (NFL), he played running back and kickoff returner in the league for eight seasons, from 1986 to 1993. He played college football for the Brigham Young University Cougars, and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) in the tenth round of the 1986 NFL Draft. He also played for the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles before retiring after the 1993 season. Since retiring he has served as Sports Director for WCAU, the NBC owned-and-operated station in Philadelphia, where he has been since 1994.

Sikahema is an older cousin of fellow Tongan NFL player Deuce Lutui.[1]

Peter Tuipulotu (born on February 20, 1969 in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga) was a Canadian and American football player. He played as a running back at Brigham Young University from 1988 to 1991. He played one season for the San Diego Chargers in 1992, and two for the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League, from 1994 to 1995. With the Stallions, he won the 83rd Grey Cup.

Stephen Paea NFL Draft Overview

03/17/2011 - DT Stephen Paea has been rehabbing from January knee surgery following an injury suffered during Senior Bowl practices, and tentatively has a March 31 workout scheduled as long as his knee is strong enough. He set a combine record with 49 reps at 225 pounds, but had to sit out the positional drills and Oregon State's pro day. Paea's been known for his strength for some time, using his low center of gravity to play with leverage inside. His hustle also intrigues teams, who consider him a solid second-round pick despite a knee injury that took him out of the Senior Bowl last month. -- The Sports Xchange

Full Stephen Paea News WireOverview

Wide as a Coke machine and just as difficult to move, Paea (pronounced pie-uh) has developed into one of the nation's best run-stuffers. His development is staggering in the sense that he signed with Oregon State having only played three years of organized football.

A highly touted rugby player, Paea moved to the United States at age 16 and began playing football and learning the English language at that time. With only one season at Timpview High School, Paea signed with Snow Junior College, where he helped the Badgers finish the 2007 regular season undefeated and eventually ranked No. 3 in the country.

With Oregon State in 2008, Paea earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors with 41 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and five sacks. Despite being the object of every opponent's blocking scheme, Paea was similarly effective in 2009, registering 43 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and tying the school record with four forced fumbles. Pac-10 offensive linemen voted him the Morris Trophy as the conference's most dominant defensive lineman. Even more impressively, Paea repeated as the Morris Trophy winner in 2010, registering similar tackle numbers (45) and roughly doubling his efforts behind the line of scrimmage (10 TFLs, six sacks). He again posted four forced fumbles, giving him the school record of nine over his career.

Paea is a bit of a one-trick pony. He isn't agile enough to put consistent pressure on the quarterback at the NFL level. His ability to tie up blocks in the middle will lead teams to look at him closely over the first 50 picks of the 2011 draft no matter what scheme they utilize.

Pass rush: Doesn't provide much in terms of a pass rush. Is able to split gaps due to his burst off the snap, but doesn't have quick feet or agility to chase down the quarterback. Relies on his bull rush to knock interior linemen into the pocket and flush the passer into the arms of teammates. Lacks the height and arm length required in consistently altering passing lanes.

Run defense: Is quick enough to surprise his opponent with a burst through the gap, but will make his NFL millions due to the fact that he is a natural run plugger due to his short, squatty build and rare upper- and lower-body strength. Can be knocked off the ball when double-teamed, but flashes the ability to split them and is rarely pushed far before he's able to plant his legs in the ground and create a pile. Doesn't have the lateral agility and balance to beat runners to the sideline, but hustles in pursuit.

Explosion: Fires off the snap low and hard, flashing a sudden burst that surprises opponents. Burst is short-lived and only extends to his ability to go straight upfield. With his strength and bowling ball-like frame, Paea can explode into the ballcarrier if he gets a running start.

Strength: Ranks as one of the country's strongest players, reportedly boasting a 600-pound squat, 500-pound bench press and the ability to churn out 44 repetitions of 225 pounds. Is even stronger than his weight-room numbers indicate due to his natural leverage. Doesn't disengage from blockers as well as his strength would indicate due to the need to refine his hand technique and average lateral agility.

Tackling: Stays squared and low to knock down the ballcarrier near the line of scrimmage. Flashes explosive hitting ability, with a proven ability to knock the ball free. Tied the OSU record with four forced fumbles in 2009. Good upper-body strength to drag down ballcarriers as they attempt to go past him. Doesn't have the speed or change of direction to offer much in pursuit.

Intangibles: High-effort player was voted a team co-captain in 2009, in his second year in the program as a junior. Proved his toughness in 2008 by playing the final month of the regular season despite a painful bursa sac injury in his knee. Born in New Zealand, grew up in Tonga and dreamt of becoming a professional rugby player. Learned the English language after moving to the United States at age 16.

Shiloh Keo NFL Draft Overview

03/15/2011 - Idaho Pro day: Defensive back Shiloh Keo (5-11 3/8, 216) clocked the 40 in 4.66 and 4.68, had a 34-inch vertical leap, 9-9 broad jump, and stood on his short shuttle and bench press results from last month's NFL Scouting Combine. He was a top performer in both events. - Gil Brandt,

Full Shiloh Keo News WireOverview

At under 6 feet tall but a solid 215 pounds, Keo looks the part of a future NFL defensive back. He did a little bit of everything with the Vandals, as Keo's ability to impact the game as a big-hitter and ball-hawk on defense as well as a special teams defender and returner made him a WAC standout from the beginning.

He has flaws in his game that could be exposed against NFL speed. A team will fall in love with his toughness and leadership and take a gamble on him in the late rounds. To make it in the pro game, Keo will need to impress early on special teams and convince a club that his penchant for big plays make up for his lack of ideal agility and speed in coverage.

Positives: Good bulk and strength for the position. Physical defender who isn't afraid to stick in his nose in the pile. Good team defender. Willing to take out the legs of charging offensive linemen and trust his teammates to make the easy tackle. Can be a physical tone-setter across the middle, providing heavy hits to unsuspecting receivers and backs. Enough athleticism to stick with most backs and tight ends in coverage. Versatile, gutty performer whose leadership on and off the field is respected by his teammates. Two-time team captain (2009, 2010) and served as the Special Teams captain in 2008. Strong special teams performer.

Negatives: Might lack the athleticism to handle coverage responsibilities in the NFL. Is a tough defender, but isn't particularly instinctive and doesn't possess the fluidity and straight-line speed to mask his lack of awareness. Can lay the big hit on an unsuspecting ballcarrier, but to do so generally has to leave his feet and has a tendency to duck his head and rely on the collision to knock the ballcarrier to the ground, rather than wrapping his arms securely.

Roy Helu NFL Draft Overview

03/15/2011 - Nebraska Pro day: 18 players worked out indoors on FieldTurf. RB Roy Helu (6-0 3/8, 220) stood on his combine numbers and did position drills. - Gil Brandt,

Full Roy Helu News WireOverview

Helu, Jr. left Lincoln fourth on the school's career rushing list despite not being the No. 1 option during most of his career. His most productive season came as a senior, posting career highs of 1,245 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on only 188 attempts to earn second-team All-Big 12 honors.

Helu played in seven games as a freshman, finishing with 45 carries for 209 yards. As a sophomore, he finished as the team's leading rusher with 803 yards on 125 carries with seven touchdowns despite starting just two games. He added 25 receptions for 266 yards.

Taking over as the top gun in 2009, Helu rushed 220 times for 1,147 yards with nine scores, also catching 19 passes for 149 yards.

The fact Helu did not carry the full load at Nebraska in 2010, splitting carries with Rex Burkhead, worries some scouts. But when he got his opportunities to shine, like his 28 carry, 307-yard, three-touchdown performance against Missouri, he displayed a confident and tough running style.

Helu should be picked in the middle rounds and should, at worst, have a decent career as a backup in the NFL. If he can continue to improve his vision and decisiveness, he has the chance to be productive.

Strengths: Very explosive runner with great acceleration to the hole. Shows very good patience to let blocks develop in front of him. Owns the breakaway speed to take it all the way once at the second level. Shows good vision and has a nice cutback move to gain extra yardage. Accelerates quickly off his cut. Carries out play fakes well. Bounces outside, able to get the corner. Breaks through arm tackles, lowers his shoulder and plows ahead for extra yards in the open field. Utilizes the stiff arm well. Displays great agility, regularly makes the first defender miss. Runs good routes and makes good use of head and body fakes to create separation. Possesses leadership qualities, earned a reputation for being a real team player.


Often hesitant at the line of scrimmage, neutralizing his size and speed. Not consistent as an inside power runner, goes down too easily at times. Does not keep his legs moving when wrapped up. Offers very little in pass protection, tends to lunge at the defender and is prone to missing blocks. Can get overwhelmed by the pass rush. Ineffective cut blocker. Plays on his heels and struggles handling a speed rusher. Has poor awareness of who to pick up when lead blocking. Breaks out of his stance early and can give away the snap count. Was not used much in the passing game this past season, though he has experience on swing passes.

Sione Fua NFL Draft Overview

03/26/2011 - Stanford Pro day: Stanford had ideal conditions for its pro day, with 22 teams on hand to watch 16 players participate on March 17. The workouts were completed outdoors on FieldTurf. DT Sione Fua measured 6-foot-1, and weighed 310 pounds. He had a vertical leap of 27-inches and broad jump of 8.7 while he stood on the rest of his numbers from the combine. He did participate in positional workouts. - Gil Brandt,

Full Sione Fua News WireOverview

There's a reason Stanford went from 55th in the nation against the run in 2009 to 19th in 2010, and although Fua can't take all the credit, he deserves a nose guard's share. After the team switched from a base "40" front to a true 3-4 his senior season, the onus was on Stanford's new two-gap plugger to occupy the middle and keep opponents from shoving the ball down the Cardinal's throat, and he responded.

The new system was a better fit for Fua. After he managed to earn honorable-mention All-Pac-10 as a junior (24 tackles, three for loss, 1.5 sacks), he showed the anchor strength to hold up against double-teams and fires out low enough to gain initial leverage and clog interior running lanes.

Fua was a second-team All-Pac-10 pick as a senior (22 tackles, six for loss, 4.5 sacks). He won't bring much pass-rushing prowess to his new team, but with many clubs installing at least a few "30" front looks, he has the squatty, thick build and excellent lower-body strength makes him worthy of a mid-round selection.

Strengths: Is a thick, stout player who uses his low center of gravity and squatty build to his advantage. Keeps his base down when uncoiling out of his stance and does not allow offensive linemen to leverage him. Extends his arms and generates a violent punch on contact, jarring blockers and quickly getting into position. Strong, powerful bull rusher who jolts the offensive lineman and gets leverage early. Has a low firing point and possesses the leg strength to drive blockers into the backfield. Sits into stance and anchors well against double-teams while maintaining the balance and body control to shed inside blocks. Can clog two gaps, keep his base under him and stay off the ground. Has experience playing the nose in a 3-4 front and the three-technique in a 4-3 front. Plays with a high motor and relentlessly fights to hold his ground.

Weaknesses: Lacks suddenness and is not the type of athlete who will knife through blocks to pressure the passer. Does not run well and struggles to work down the line to make plays away from his frame. Offers very little as a pursuit defender and cannot move quickly enough to track down a passer or runner from the backside. Can be run around and away from and lunges when trying to move laterally. Does not use his hands to beat blockers as a pass rusher and doesn't generate consistent penetration in the middle. Doesn't finish plays once he reaches the backfield and lacks the awareness to locate the football once he's through the line.

Matt Asiata NFL Draft Overview


Utah's 2010 season didn't go exactly as planned, and after multiple injuries, Asiata knows the feeling. A broken leg derailed his first season in Salt Lake in 2007, and a torn ACL shelved him for all but four games as a junior. He led the team and finished seventh in the Mountain West with 707 rushing yards in 2008, and he won a WSFL rushing title at Snow College before coming to Utah.

Asiata might have tired after six years of playing the position. One thing he hasn't lost, however, is his nose for the end zone. Asiata scored eight times as a senior, though only one scoring of more than a yard. Consistent lower-body problems robbed him of his explosion, and although he averaged a tough 4.5 yards per carry while accumulating 695 yards last season, he was playing at a lower gear, going over 20 carries and 100 yards only once.

There's hope for Asiata at the next level if he's open to a position switch. Although he's light on blocking experience, his solid build and ability to lower his shoulder and barrel through the line should earn him a few looks as an NFL fullback or a situational short-yardage option.

Strengths: Thick, strong build with a powerful lower body. Consistently lowers his shoulder and churns legs to pick up yards after contact. Has a nose for the end zone and flashes the nimbleness to find openings near the goal line. Maintains balance and absorbs hits by protecting his body. Does not fumble and shows awareness in open field. A willing blocker who has some potential to contribute in the passing game as a receiver. Was a two-year captain at Utah.

Weaknesses: Lacks explosiveness and is not quick enough to consistently hit the hole before it closes. Does not maintain acceleration when changing direction or run away from defenders. Injuries have robbed him of his second gear, and he struggles to turn the corner. Gets impatient as a runner and will not wait for blocks to develop. Is not a strong route runner and fights the ball when catching it. Suffered a broken right fibula and tibia in 2007 and tore the ACL in his right knee in 2009.

Vai Taua NFL Draft Overview

03/25/2011 - Nevada Pro day: Running back Vai Taua measured 5-10 and weighed 214. He improved upon his combine numbers in every category, except the vertical jump, which he stood on. He clocked 4.69 seconds and 4.76 in the 40-yard dash, had a 9-foot-8 broad jump, a 4.30-second short shuttle drill, a 7.05 3-cone clocking and he bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times. - Gil Brandt,

Taua was a big part of the prosperity experienced by the Wolf Pack in recent years, rushing for at least 1,300 yards in each of the past three seasons, including 1,600 for 19 touchdowns as a senior. Taua clearly can handle all aspects of NFL feature back duty, and projects to become a quality part of a backfield rotation. While his upside is somewhat limited, durability and intangibles will likely impress.

Positives: Three-year starter is an impressive prospect who combines power and quick feet. Runs low and finishes hard. Excellent vision to read blocks and pick the right hole, and can break the long run. Good acceleration and change of direction. Secures the ball extremely well, breaks some tackles and gets extra yards with defenders in tow. Career average over 6.0 yards per carry. Decent receiver out of the backfield. Gives effort as blocker. Extremely durable and productive back who projects well to the next level as a full feature back. Tough and hard working.

Negatives: While quick, fast and agile, lacks an elite top gear. Runs with power, but is not a true power "big back." Not an especially natural receiver. Blocking could use some fine tuning. Has a lot of miles on the tires at this point in career.

--Brad Noel

Saving Strands with the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu

March 28, 2011 at 10:54 am
By April Franzino

What do hair and football have to do with each other? A lot if you’re Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu. We had the chance to chat with the star player (truly one of the most kind, gracious people we’ve ever encountered) and Head & Shoulders spokesman about his game—and yes, his trademark mane:
Why do you keep your hair so long? “I grew it out in college, and went through a shaggy stage when I didn’t care what I looked like. Over time, it became a part of who I am.”
What do you like about having long hair? “I wouldn’t say I really love it—but when it becomes part of your identity, you think of it as another appendage.”
What do you dislike about your long locks? “Maintenance is a tough thing. Usually for men, you have short hair, get in the shower, throw on some shampoo and that’s it. But my hair definitely requires more care and takes a long time to dry!”
How do you care for your hair and keep it healthy? “I shampoo and condition a lot, and I comb the shampoo through my hair in the shower. I keep it up a lot so it’s out of the way.”
What hair products do you use? “I actually use Head & Shoulders Smooth & Silky Conditioner as a shampoo- I shampoo once a week during off season, but more during the season because I’m practicing all day.”
What hair length do you like on women? “My wife has hair down to the middle of her back. Many Polynesian women have really long hair, including my sisters. I prefer my wife’s hair, however she decides to wear it!”
Does having long hair help or hinder you during a game? “It doesn’t really matter—sometimes it will get stuck in my helmet or my mouth, which is annoying. But overall it’s not a big problem.”
When was the last time you cut it? “The last time I cut it was nine years ago. I don’t think I’ll ever cut it again—I don’t plan on it. Our sons’ hair has never been cut, so it’s becoming our family trademark.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Masoli’s chances at playing in the NFL are less clear.

He threw for 2,039 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his senior season, while also rushing for 544 yards and six touchdowns. He also had an exceptional career at Oregon — accounting for 5,277 yards of total offense and 51 touchdowns — over two seasons before transferring to Ole Miss after being dismissed from Oregon after two run-ins with police over a six-month span.

At just 5-foot-11, quarterback might not be his professional position. At pro day, he threw passes and also caught passes out of the backfield.

“Different teams have different answers,” Masoli said. “A couple of guys might use me in their scheme as a running back or a wildcat guy, or other guys are talking about QB only.”

He said his preference is to play quarterback.

“I’m a QB at heart, but I’m also a baller at heart,” Masoli said. “Any position, I’ll take it.”

Morehead State stuns Louisville, Peyton Siva

Former Franklin High star Peyton Siva, a sophomore guard for Louisville, had a tough game in upset loss to Morehead State.

By Bud Withers

Seattle Times staff reporter
Peyton Siva

DENVER — Peyton Siva sat by himself in a corner of a stunned Louisville locker room. He seemed to know he would have a long time, a whole offseason, to shoulder what had just unfolded here at the Pepsi Center.

Siva's fourth-seeded Louisville team was ambushed Thursday by in-state Kentucky little brother Morehead State, 62-61, the first big upset of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It happened on a three-pointer right in Siva's grille with 4.2 seconds left by Morehead's senior guard, Demonte Harper, who had missed all of his previous five treys.

"I played horribly," said Siva, the sophomore from Franklin High. "I really didn't show up today."

But the 13th-seeded Eagles (25-9) did. They used the rebounding dominance of the nation's leader, Kenneth Faried (17 boards), and the perimeter shooting of guard Terrance Hill (23 points) to send Louisville (25-10) packing.

"I believed in myself," said Harper, recalling his shot. "And my teammates and coaching staff believed in me."

Reaction was extreme on both sides.

"It's without question the biggest win in the history of the program," said Morehead coach Donnie Tyndall.

Meanwhile, Louisville coach Rick Pitino said, "This is as tough a loss as I've had in coaching, and I've been coaching a long time — after (today), maybe too long."

Louisville started atrociously, as Siva made three turnovers before the Cardinals scored.

But Louisville warmed up, taking a 48-41 lead in the second half, only to see Morehead's 16-4 run reclaim a five-point lead. Siva then had his best stretch with three assists in a 9-0 Louisville run for a 61-57 lead.

But it was left to Morehead, down 61-59 with the ball and half a minute left, to make the pivotal decision. Tyndall said when he couldn't sleep Thursday morning at 2:30, he decided his team wouldn't be playing for the tie in such a situation.

Harper stood, dribbling, above the circle, took a bold step forward to back Siva off, then drained his three.

"Bad defense on my part," said Siva. "I should have got into him."

Louisville had a final stab, and it put the ball in Siva's hands. But Tyndall decided to trap him, and Siva, near the midcourt line, had to fling the ball to the left wing to guard Mike Marra. He rose to shoot, and the athletic Faried came to challenge him. There appeared to be considerable contact, but no call, and it was done.

"I thought he got fouled," Siva said. "It's a tough way to lose."

Said Marra, "You can't really expect the ref to make a call. I'm not really mad about it."

B/R Interview: Hawaii Warriors' Mana Silva Prepares for NFL Draft

By Matt Shetler (Featured Columnist) on March 27, 2011 - Honolulu

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

As the NFL Draft nears, different general managers tend to notice different things about different players and each looks for different characteristics in an individual before making an investment in him.

One thing all general managers would agree on is that dedication and the willingness to go the extra mile appeal to every NFL club.

When you talk dedication and the willingness to go the extra mile, you are talking about Hawaii safety Mana Silva.

For a while, Silva went the extra mile every day, 200 of them in fact.

After signing with Oregon State as a quarterback out of high school, he moved to wide receiver and redshirted his freshman year. The Hawaiian native then transferred to Hawaii to be closer to his family.

He made the successful switch to safety and made some sacrifices along the way, including driving 200 miles each way initially to juggle family time along with classes and football.

“It was very tough to do, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make,” Silva said.

Another sacrifice Silva made was switching to safety, knowing it was his quickest way to the field. Once he made the switch, Silva worked diligently to perfect his craft. He’s done that and is on the verge of being selected by a NFL club.

“I saw playing safety as a better fit for me,” he said. "I was happy with my college career. Things seemed to start out pretty well and just got better from there.”

In his two years as a starter for the Warriors, Silva turned himself into a ball hawking safety that plays sideline to sideline.

“Going to the ball well is one of my strengths,” added Silva. “I love to play this game and I love to be in on every play.”

If you watch Hawaii play, you come away using one word to describe Silva. That’s playmaker. Silva plays the run well and plays the pass just as effectively, picking off 14 passes the past two seasons, something that starting out as a quarterback has helped him do.

“I loved being a quarterback, but I have taken some of what I learned there over to the defensive side of the ball,” said Silva. “It’s helped me understand route combinations better and read the quarterbacks eyes.”

You also come away from a Hawaii game drawing a comparison of Silva to the Pittsburgh Steelers' Troy Polamalu.

While Silva may not be as big or fast as Polamalu, there are a ton of similarities in the way the approach the game. Starting with being from Samoan descent and even wearing Polamalu’s No. 43, Silva strives to be as good as Polamalu currently is.

On the field, both guys fly to the ball and are smart players. When their teams need a play made on defense, they are usually the guys to get it done.

“If I modeled my game after anyone, I’d say it would be Polamalu,” said Silva. “He’s the best and I think we do some similar things on the field, but it’s an honor just to be mentioned with a guy like that.”

Silva may get the chance one day to be on the same field as Polamalu.

No team can have too many play makers on the defensive side of the ball, and Silva fits that bill.

Silva is projected to go in the middle rounds of the draft, but could increase his stock during his pro day on March 31. He’s currently been training in Arizona for the past six weeks working on his speed.

“I’m focused and have been working hard,” added Silva. “I’d like to get my 40 time into the 4.4 range and then have an impressive pro day.”

One thing is for sure, if Silva has dedicated himself to a goal, he likely will accomplish it.

The next step is determining if there will be football to play in the upcoming year, but Silva hasn’t let that bother him.

“There’s no looking at that,” said Silva. “I am focused on what I have to do to achieve a dream. I don’t worry about something that’s not in my hands, I just have to worry about the things I can control.”

This much is certain. We know Silva will go the extra mile to achieve his dream.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Samoa Samoa 2007 INDUCTEE LBCC Hall of Fame

Samoa Samoa (Football, 1976-77): Samoa was named LBCC’s most improved player and all-conference in 1976 before a standout MVP season in 1977 when he earned all-conference and Junior College All-American honors. Samoa transferred to Washington State University and hit the field for the Cougars for the first time in 1979. As a senior in 1980, he served as team captain and was named WSU’s Cougar Player of the Year. Samoa earned MVP honors at the 1981 Hula Bowl (college all-star game) before joining the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL where he was a member of its squad for two seasons (1981-82). Samoa is currently a coach and administrator in American Samoa.

I never said thank you. Rev. Junior Tupuola

by Eric Apalategui | © Washington State University

Inside the First Samoan Congregational Church in Oceanside, California, the Rev. Junior Tupuola is addressing his congregation, when he notices a figure in white moving across the back of the sanctuary. To Tupuola, it resembles an angel.
As the figure reaches the end of the aisle, Tupuola can see that it's clad in jeans, the blue color of which stands out against the brightly colored clothing of the islanders sitting in the pews.
The figure stops and turns toward Tupuola. The white resolves into a Washington State University jersey. Crimson numerals take shape.
No. 19. Rod Retherford's jersey number.
From the pulpit, Tupuola meets Retherford's eyes, already swimming with emotion.
The sight sends Tupuola's mind tumbling back to a time a quarter century ago, when a very different flash of white and splash of crimson forever changed the two men's lives.
September 1980
"Hey, man, is this your gun?" asked Junior Tupuola, a freshman linebacker who was recruited to Pullman. Tupuola, who grew up sheltered on Navy bases and in American Samoa, figured the white-gripped pistol he just found in the back of Rod Retherford's Dodge Colt was a toy cowboy gun.
Retherford had arrived in the Palouse a few months earlier from the middle of the "puckerbrush country" of John Day, Oregon. Already a veteran of the rodeo circuit, he figured that if he could ride a 2,500-pound bull in jeans and cowboy boots, he certainly could hit a 250-pound player in full pads.
At 180 pounds and with a cowboy's lanky build, Retherford had once been cut from his small high school's team for being undersized. He still seemed too little to make it as a walk-on at a Division I football school. But he proved too tough to leave off the roster.
So here he was, now on scholarship, picking up a couple of buddies at a dorm for a team meal. Star quarterback Samoa Samoa was in the front seat, and Tupuola was squeezed into the back.
For Retherford, coming from a place and time where "if it moved, we shot it," it was natural to keep a gun under the seat of his old Dodge Colt. The pistol must have slid out onto the floorboard.
"Yeah, but it's..." Retherford began before the blast cut him off.
White smoke filled the car. Blood poured from Retherford's neck in a steady stream, spattering the shocked and screaming Junior. Samoa bolted for help.
The .22-caliber bullet had ripped through Retherford's shoulder and slammed into his neck, destroying one of four major arteries supplying his brain before lodging near his spinal cord.
Retherford's body went limp from the neck down and started twitching. He'd already lost his older brother to a rodeo accident. Now, with a calm that surprises him still, he thought, "Well, that was a short life."
But Retherford summoned his wits instead of quietly bleeding to death.
"Junior," he blurted, "shut up!"
He instructed Junior to press a shirt against the bullet hole to stanch the flow. Then, as the bleeding stopped, Retherford started worrying about paralysis. He willed his index finger to move. At first, it wouldn't budge. After five minutes, it wagged slightly.
"Man, you would've thought we'd won the Super Bowl," he later recalled. "I was like, 'Yeah!'"
As it turned out, the bullet had bruised, but had not permanently injured, Retherford's spinal cord, and except for his shattered shoulder, he quickly regained the use of his body. However, doctors decided that he might bleed to death if they attempted to remove the bullet, so they left it there.
Retherford asked a doctor if he would live. The doctor paused, then said, "I don't know. It's too soon to tell."
The story of Rod Retherford's return from near death to play the next two seasons with a bullet lodged in his neck made headlines in the early 1980s, when Coach Jim Walden's Cougars sprang back to national prominence with the team's first bowl bid in 51 years.
Retherford ('84 Phys. Ed.) would go on to raise a family and try a few different careers. Now a saddle maker in central Oregon, he continues to talk about his legendary resiliency as a motivational speaker.
Junior Tupuola's story is not so well known.
December 1987
Tupuola was driving home late from a club in northern San Diego County, California. It was almost Christmas. He'd spent yet another night drinking, he'd been introduced to methamphetamines, and his life was spinning out of control. His soul, he says, was crying out for help.
Through the darkness, he spotted a white cross standing tilted on a hill. Tupuola stopped the car, crawled through the brush, straightened the cross, and piled rocks around its base to hold it in place.
"I said, 'God, I need you. I need help,'" he says. "I cried like a baby."
Just a few years earlier, Tupuola had been so sharp at cutting down quarterbacks as an outside linebacker for WSU, that an alum dubbed him "The Mowin' Samoan"-a nod to the famous WSU quarterback Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson. The name might have stuck, if Tupuola's life had gone according to plan.
At WSU, Tupuola had become intoxicated, first with freedom, and then with booze. He fought to keep up his grades-but not as hard as he fought in bar brawls. More than once, Coach Walden bailed Tupuola out of holding cells across the Idaho line.
"Next thing you know, it's Monday morning, and I'm in his office getting my butt chewed out," Tupuola says.
The partying took a toll on Tupuola's training, but he had such speed and a nose for the ball that he started as linebacker during his final two years as a Cougar. The NFL scouts came, but they vanished when an injury slowed Tupuola a step during his senior season.
Nevertheless, after his final college season, the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League asked him to try out. He abandoned his degree and hustled to Canada, only to spend too much time in nightclubs to be able to withstand the rigors of pro football. After the Stampeders cut him, he got a second chance with the Montreal Alouettes. He still spent his nights at clubs and washed out again.
Back in the Northwest, Tupuola became a bouncer at Celebrities, a Seattle night club. One night, a Saudi Arabian prince arrived with an entourage in Lamborghinis. A member of the group pressed two 100-dollar bills into Tupuola's palm to bypass a line stretched down the street. At the end of Tupuola's shift, the prince summoned him to a back room and asked him to become a bodyguard.
Before long, Tupuola found himself living in the prince's mansion in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where he spent "Monday through Sunday" clubbing.
When the prince went to Saudi Arabia on family business, Tupuola would set out across the desert to spend time with a large Samoan community around Oceanside, California.
One of his cousins ran a drug ring, peddling dope around the beach and hill towns north of San Diego. Tupuola started running with the gang and got his first introduction to methamphetamines, which he called "dirt."
Soon, Tupuola became a "regulator" for the family gang. When customers didn't pay up, he and another cousin would "tax" them by taking a car or another possession. Tupuola carried a 9mm handgun. Sometimes he beat up uncooperative customers.
His lifestyle was taking its toll. The football player who once boasted pro talent was falling into despair.
"I let the worst get the best of me," Tupuola says. "I was dead spiritually. My soul was dead, but I was brought back to life."
His recovery dates from the night he cried out for help on that brushy hillside in southern California.
As if summoned, a few cousins found him and sent him to American Samoa, where his parents welcomed him home.
Eventually, Tupuola entered Kanana Fou Theological Seminary in American Samoa and later returned to California, where he is working on an advanced degree at Claremont School of Theology. Now an ordained minister, married, and the father of two sons, he hopes to return to American Samoa to teach at the seminary and help the youth of the island territory avoid many of the same temptations that nearly ruined him.
"That's what I need to do," he says, "is save the youth and go around and be a witness to them.
May 2005
Rather than blaming him, Rod Retherford has always credited Tupuola with saving his life.
"Accidents are accidents," Retherford says. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Junior."
Even so, the two went in opposite directions after their playing days and never spoke about the shooting.
"Junior and I never really got to talk about everything. You're macho football players. You don't tell someone you love 'em and they're like a brother to you," he says. "I never said 'thank you' to him."
Now, 25 years later in the back of that church in Oceanside, the two men hug each other like long-lost brothers.
"I don't think people really understand the bond that is formed between players on a football team," Retherford says. "You go through so much together."

Peyton Siva Selected as Papa John's Dunk of the Year Nominee Finalists featured and winner revealed on CBS on April 3.

Feb. 28, 2011


CHICAGO - University of Louisville guard Peyton Siva's smooth 360 dunk against Connecticut on Feb. 18 was selected as a 2011 Papa John's Dunk of the Year nominee, announced today by sports television production and event marketing company Intersport.

The Papa John's Dunk of the Year is wholly determined by fan voting and will be announced on a one-hour "Papa John's Dunks of the Year" special airing on CBS April 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Each week for the past eight weeks, four incredible college dunk videos have been released at the Dunks of the Year fan page on Facebook. The top weekly vote-getters proceed to the Finals, which tip off March 7. The CBS special will highlight the eight finalists and reveal the 2011 Papa John's Dunk of the Year.

Siva's 360 dunk is competing against three other dunkers in week eight - North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, Tennessee's Scotty Hopson and Utah State's Brady Jardine. If Siva wins, he'll join teammate Kyle Kuric in the Finals, who won fan voting in week six to become one of eight finalists for the 2011 Papa John's Dunk of the Year.

To support Siva, fans can vote once a day and share their vote with their Facebook friends. Week eight voting opened today and ends Sunday, March 6, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Winners - and therefore 2011 Papa John's Dunk of the Year finalists - from the first seven weeks of voting are below:

Shay Shine, High Point University
Jermaine Mallett, Missouri State University
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State University
Travis Releford, University of Kansas
Kyle Kuric, University of Louisville
Will Sheehey, Indiana University
Terrence Jones, University of Kentucky

Hall of Fame - LeLei Fonoimoana BYU

LeLei Fonoimoana entered BYU in 1976 as a teenage phenomenon with a string of swimming honors. At age 15 she helped set an American record in the 400 medley relay, and at 17 she placed seventh in the 100-meter butterfly at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, missing a medal by only five-tenths of a second.

Noted for her intense concentration and lengthy workouts in the Richards Building pools, LeLei subsequently put BYU on the national swimming charts.

She amassed a total of 11 All-America awards, nearly double the number earned by any other BYU female athlete. She has held or holds five school records ar sea level - 50, 100, and 200-meter butterfly as well as the 100 and 200-meter individual medley.

In her freshman season, LeLei scored all of BYU's 64 points at the AIAW National Championships. She collected five All-America awards in the butterfly and individual medley events while picking up an 18th-place finish for the team.

As a sophomore, she won three more All-America awards; as a junior, she won two; and then she sat out the 1979-80 collegiate season to practice in Florida for the Olympic trials.

During her senior season, LeLei, a pre-med major, won her eleventh All-America award in her specialty, the 100-meter butterfly. That year she was selected Outstanding Senior Female Athlete by the Cougar Club and was named to the AIAW All-Region Team. Although the conference did not award honors until her junior year, she headed the all-Conference list in her final two seasons.

Since leaving BYU, LeLei has enjoyed extensive professional employment as an assistant swim coach at UCLA, a senior lifeguard, a therapist, and a dance instructor.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

West Anchorage High School Volleyball Coach Fa'aana Tosi

Fa'aana Tosi (Pronounced Pha-'a-ana Toh-see). Of Samoan descent and named after my grandmother. A mom to 3 amazing kids! Being a parent is a blessing, but being a coach is an exciting adventure.

Our goal is to ensure that students, parents, and staff have a positive experience at WAHS and are passionate about volleyball. I'm excited to be at West and looking forward to a great season!

"The most vital qualities a successful person can possess is self-confidence - utter and complete heart, spirit, and audacity. You can have doubts about your good looks, your intelligence, about your self-control - but to win, you must have no doubts about your abilities." US Gen.G.P.

Fili Moala: Bill Polian pleased with DT Moala's progress

Fili Moala - DL - IND - Mar. 17 - 11:05 am et

Colts president Bill Polian says that DT Fili Moala "exceeded our expectations" in his second season.
"A lot of pundits were saying he was a failed draft choice last year," said Polian. "Well, that is not the case, as he proved this year." The 56th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Moala went from being inactive as a rookie to a 16-game starter in his second year. Though he has a ways to go as a run defender, Moala led Colts defensive tackles in QB hits and tackles for loss. Mar. 17 - 11:05 am et

Countdown to Signing Day: Oregon commit Marcus Mariota Published: Monday, January 24, 2011, 10:49 PM Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 11:22 PM By Lindsay Schnell, The Oregonian

Name: Marcus Mariota
Hometown: Hololulu, Hawaii
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 195
High school: Saint Louis
2010 statistics: Completed 165 of 255 passes (a 65 percent completion percentage) for 2,597 yards and 32 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Also rushed 60 times for 455 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and 7 touchdowns

Duck fans should be excited because: According to Saint Louis coach Darnell Arceneaux, Mariota's throwing motion is almost identical to a current quarterback who's pretty darn good.

"I can tell you right now, Marcus will be THE best passer of anyone (at Oregon)," Arceneaux said. "His throwing motion looks a lot like Andrew Luck's. He's a thrower first, a natural thrower with running ability."

After Mariota put up some staggering numbers in the 2010 season and led Saint Louis to the Hawaii state championship, Arceneaux said colleges from all over the country called about the star quarterback. But Mariota has stayed firm in his commitment to the Ducks.

"You don't know how many coaches have been knocking on my door asking if he's still committed to Oregon," Arceneaux said. "Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, everyone. You name the school, they've been here. But he's very excited about Oregon."

Hawaii has produced a handful of stellar college prospects in the past few years, and Arceneaux thinks Mariota has to be at the top of that list.

"He is probably one of the best quarterbacks to ever come out of Hawaii with all the intangibles," Arceneaux said. "He's a phenomenal athlete and he's got unbelievable speed. Him on the zone read, it's just not fair."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Marvin Lewis: Rey Maualuga Mentally Ready To Make Transition To Middle Linebacker

by Josh Kirkendall on Mar 22, 2011 12:24 PM EDT in Analysis

about 1 year ago: FILE - In this Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009 file photo, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga walks off the field after an NFL football game in Cincinnati. Police in northern Kentucky arrested Maualuga early Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 on charges of drunken and careless driving. (AP Photo/Tony Tribble, File)

We've speculated that if the Bengals decide to let Dhani Jones leave for free agency this year, then the Bengals would probably move Rey Maualuga to the inside. Mike Zimmer has remained hesitant, even challenging him by saying last season, Maualuga was average. As if the lockout couldn't complicate matters more, Mauaulga will be unable to visit with coaches about that transition. Adjusting to become the new defensive quarterback on the team.

However according to Geoff Hobson, Marvin Lewis believes that Rey Maualuga is "mentally ready to make the move to inside linebacker in his third season." That being 2011.

The question about Maualuga hasn't really been about his physical abilities. According to Pro Football FocusMaualuga graded as the team's second-best defensive player behind Geno Atkins. Maualuga's 11.6 grade against the run ranked sixth in the NFL among 4-3 linebackers.

Maualuga didn't play as well in pass coverage or during a blitz. But he has the talent to be an all-star middle linebacker in time and it appears that the Bengals are moving that much closer towards his eventual transition.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What are Freddie Tagaloa’s strengths as a player on the football field?

Freddie is the prototypical left tackle. A player of Freddie’s caliber doesn’t come around very often. Of course we said the same thing when Jahvid Best played for the Pride. A player like Jahvid won’t come around again as Cal and the Detroit Lions found out, but here’s Freddie again as a left tackle w/ impressive size and technique. He projects very well on the offensive line as a left tackle at the next level.

Cal's Eselu kicks back with friends and ukulele

August 30, 2010|By John Crumpacker, Chronicle Staff Writer

Although reserve tight end Savai'i Eselu doesn't figure to play much for Cal this season, he's still going to play. He's always going to play. It's a family thing.
After all, the smooth, honey-brown ukulele was handed down from his grandmother to his uncle to him.
"I've been playing since I was 10 years old," the now 21-year-old said. "I actually took lessons in Hawaii but for me, I just go by ear. We used to jam a lot. I used to play a lot with my dad and uncle. I come from a family of musicians."

Unlike his performer uncle, the nephew said he's too scared to sing in front of an audience, but that doesn't stop him from busting out impromptu jam sessions, as he did the other day after practice at Memorial Stadium.
Eselu flipped the latches on a battered black case, withdrew his handcrafted KoAloha ukulele and settled onto a splintered bleacher seat nearly three times as old as his instrument. Joining him were teammates Aaron Tipoti and Solomona Aigamaua, Hawaiians like Eselu.
"My youngest brother, he's actually killing it. He's better than me," Eselu said while fingering out a tune. "I (play it) to wind down. Everything is so upbeat, so then you hop on the uke and it's chill time. I usually play by myself, sometimes in the locker room."
Eselu got a taste of the big time in 2007 when the music department at Moanalua High School in Oahu was invited to play in Carnegie Hall. He left his uke at home in favor of his upright bass.
"It was crazy," Eselu recalled. "Everything was all gold and velvet. You could hear everything come back to you when you played. We had one of the top music departments in the nation."
These days, Eselu jams mostly at the Albany apartment he shares with Tipoti, a defensive lineman, Aigamaua, a tight end, and freshman linebacker Steven Fanua, the only Californian in the bunch.
Several years ago, Cal's Polynesian players got in the habit of gathering in the bleachers after practice to socialize for a few minutes before continuing with their daily schedules. The current players continue the practice, although they are joined by some of their non-Polynesian teammates, an example of team-building of which coach Jeff Tedford would approve.
"It's more like a family thing," Tipoti said. "In practice, we focus on our own things and after practice, we gather and socialize. It started with just us (Polynesians) but it grew to teammates in general. We talk about football but more so funny little things that happen. We leave football on the field and clear our minds."
Added Aigamaua, known as Mona to his teammates, "We share funny moments that happen in practice. After each practice, we always sit there and talk. We're always the last ones to come off the field."
The personable Eselu was asked if he ever used his uke to meet girls.
"Once upon a time," he said.
Only once?
"Locked up, brother," he said, mentioning a girlfriend back in Hawaii.
Starter Anthony Miller and backup Spencer Ladner are slated to get most of the tight- end snaps for the Bears this season, but Eselu still will find a way to play as he maintains a family tradition, one plucked string at a time.