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Uncle on UA’s staff helped land Amituanai

But Polynesians’ emphasis family bonds didn’t make signing easy as one might think

UA freshman Conan Amituanai

UA freshman Conan Amituanai

Family is vitally important to the Polynesian people, which made the recruiting of Arizona defensive tackle Conan Amituanai a little difficult.

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound true freshman from Poly High School in Long Beach, Calif., signed with the Wildcats in February after being recruited by defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo, his uncle.

“It was especially hard for me because Conan’s mom is my sister,” Tuiasosopo said. “It was hard to separate from personal and business. He didn’t know which uncle he was getting from day to day. He didn’t know if he was getting the uncle the coach or the uncle the uncle.”

But even with Washington, Oregon, UCLA and California getting involved in the recruiting, it was Arizona, and family, that eventually won a player who joins six others on the Wildcats’ roster with a Polynesian background.

“He wanted to be his own person, and I wanted to give him space,” Tuiasosopo said. “But with each day, whenever I heard he was leaning to this school or that, I took it personal. I think it eventually came down to family. He knew he had an uncle here to watch over him, to push him and challenge him the best he could. I am very happy he is here. He is a explosive, big athlete.”

That family bond is common among most Polynesian players, regardless of where they live.

With family, their passion for fun and religion, there is plenty driving Amituanai and the rest of the Polynesian players who play college football.

“Throughout my whole life, not only was the language taught to me, but respect is a big part of my culture,” the freshman said. “Whatever you do, you have to be passionate about it. We are passionate, whether it be dancing or singing, and now we have a lot of Polynesians playing football.”

Driving Amituanai to be better are not only his own standards and his family’s, but earlier generations as well.

Some of the big-name Polynesian players who have made lengthy careers for themselves in the NFL are Junior Seau, Luther Elliss, David Dixon, Marques Tuiasosopo and former Wildcats Joe Salave’a and Edwin Mulitalo.



Pos. /Player /From

DT Stanley Mataele Oahu, Hawaii

OT Nick Finneangonofo Honolulu

QB George Malauulu Carson, Calif

OG Pulu Poumele Oceanside, Calif.

OT Mu Tagoai Honolulu

DB McCann Utu Long Beach, Samoa

RB Jerry Papalii Honolulu

DL Leighton Milton L.A. (Hawaii native)

DL Joe Salave’a Oceanside (Samoa)

OL Ian Murton Peoria

LB Halafihi Vuna Oakland, Calif.

DT Van Tuinei Westminster, Calif.

OG Ega Usu Lawndale, Calif.

OL Tevete Usu Lawndale, Calif.

OL Makai Freitas Honolulu

DL Steve Tafua Garden Grove, Calif.

C Steven Grace Honolulu

WR Malosi Leonard Palmdale, Calif.

TE Br. Manumaleuna Torrance, Calif.

OL Edwin Mulitalo Daly City, Calif.

DL Ben Alualu Honolulu

DL Keoni Fraser Kailua

OL Makoa Freitas Honolulu

DE Alex Luna San Fernando, Calif.

OL Manu Savea Samoa

DT Young Thompson Samoa

OL Wes Amitoelau Salt Lake City

RB Wilton Paogofie Kona

LB Joe Siofele Waipahu

DL Ben Tuinei Samoa

RB Galovale Galovale Samoa

DL Fata Avegalio Samoa

DB Ivan Dulduao Kapolei

DL Vince Feula La Mirada, Calif.

C Keoki Fraser Kailua

RB Joey Willrodt Salinas, Calif.

OL Kili Lefotu Riverside, Calif.

DL Paul Philipp San Bernardino, Calif.

DT Carl Tuitavuki Oakland, Calif.

DE Chris Kolone San Diego, Calif.

QB WiIlie Tuitama Stockton, Calif.

DT Conan Amituanai Long Beach, Calif.

DT Lolomana Mikaele Honolulu

RB Chris Jennings Ashland, Ky.

DB Trevor Foster Ontario, Calif.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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