By Mason Kelley
Taniela Tupou has never been one to shy away from sharing his future plans with family. Growing up in Hawaii, he often made bold claims about a football future.
“I always told everyone I was going to play college football when I was a little kid,” the defensive lineman said.
His parents, Mosese and Kawai, are from Oahu, and Tupou lived there for the first six years of his life. Washington’s season-opening trip to the island to play Hawaii on Aug. 30 provides an opportunity for the junior to fulfill the prediction he made as a child.
“Just to be able to have that dream come true, to be able to play in front of my family, it’s going to be awesome,” Tupou said.
It is fitting the Huskies’ trip to Hawaii coincides with the best fall camp of Tupou’s college career. After spending a few years waiting for his moment, he has made the most of his opportunity this season.
“I’m just grateful,” Tupou said. “I’m excited for the opportunity these coaches have presented to me. The past two years I’ve kind of been on the backburner, played a lot of special teams. I’ve always kind of just stayed there and waited for my opportunity.”
But, despite playing his way into the rotation, Tupou understands there is still work to be done.
“I still have a lot of learning to do,” he said. “I’ve just been taking things in little steps, especially now that I’m getting in the mix.”
How did Tupou get to this point? He said he just showed up for work every day. He stayed focused. He limited his frustration.
“Everybody’s time is different,” he said, always working to keep things in perspective.
Even though Tupou moved from Oahu years ago, he would spend summers with family on the island. His father is from Palolo – he played high school football at Kaimuki – and his mother is from Laie. He also has family in Kahuku.
When asked about his family, Tupou said they are his “motivation.” The inspiration they provide keeps him focused on the field and in the classroom.
Tupou is no longer the child making bold claims about his future. When he takes the field Aug. 30, he will get the opportunity to show his family how far he’s come.
“I’m really excited,” Tupou said. “It’s going to be a homecoming.”