Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Spartan Fou Fonoti inspired by his MSU cousins

Detroit Free Press
August 14, 2011 ET

EAST LANSING -- When times get tough over the course of preseason camp, Michigan State junior-college transfer Fou Fonoti can draw on family for inspiration.

Fonoti, from Lakeland, Calif., is the cousin of two former Spartans -- offensive tackle Siitupe Peko

(1999-2000) and defensive tackle Domata Peko (2004-05).

Like Fonoti, Siitupe Peko played first at Cerritos (Calif.) College.

"I just tell myself if they're able to do it then, if God's willing, I'm able to do it as well," said Fonoti, ranked No. 4 by SuperPrep among junior-college offensive linemen.

His cousins didn't greatly influence his decision to pick MSU.

"The thing is, I didn't speak with them until the night before signing day," Fonoti said. "I didn't use them coming here to influence my decision.

"When I came out here on my trip, it just felt like this was the place for me. Even though it is 3,000 miles from home, I feel this is home. Like they say, 'Home is where you make it.' "

Once he did talk to his cousins, he said they had nothing but good things to say about MSU.

"Domata said it's an amazing place," Fonoti said. "He really enjoyed the coaching staff and he said it felt good. With him saying that, that means a lot to me -- knowing he's been through it all already."

Fonoti has three years to play two seasons but didn't come to East Lansing expecting to redshirt.

Coach Mark Dantonio said Thursday that Fonoti is currently the No. 2 right tackle. Redshirt freshman Skyler Burkland entered camp as the starter.

"It's a great team," Fonoti said. "It's a lot of com­petition. These guys are good.

"Knowing I'm even at this level I'm thankful for that. If I'm a backup, I'm going to be the team's biggest fan."

In his first week, Fonoti learned about the talent on the other side of the ball.

"Tyler Hoover, Will Gholston, Denzel Drone, oh man, those guys make you work," Fonoti said. "They're big guys. They're physical. They're smart. For me going against these guys daily, I truly feel it makes me better each day."

SCRIMMAGE: The offense won the first presea­son scrimmage Saturday, 67-63. Kirk Cousins went 17-for-28 for 216 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw one interception.

Isaiah Lewis led the defense with eight tackles, and William Gholston had 2.5 sacks.

"As a head coach, you really try to remain neu­tral, hoping that both sides play well. The biggest things I'd like to see are more emotion and more intensity," Dantonio said in a release. "Ev­erybody got a chance to play, and that's the main thing we wanted to do today."

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