First, there was now-USC running back Vavae Malepeai.
Then, Tua Tagovailoa, the current Alabama quarterback.
Now, Faatui Tuitele, the cousin of Malepeai, will be one of two Hawaiians to play in the 2019 All-American Bowl, only the third and fourth people from the state to do so.
“I can’t wait to represent my community and my school and state in this prestigious game,” Tuitele said.
“I’ve been dreaming of playing in this game since I first discovered it in freshman year, watching Tua play in it and my cousin, Vavae Malepeai, as well, it kind of inspired me to hopefully get invited to this game one day … I couldn’t be more excited.”
Saint Louis High School (Honolulu, Hawaii), a Super 25 team, is the powerhouse of the state. With alumni like Tagovailoa and Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, Tuitele feels like his school represents football in Hawaii to the rest of the nation.
“We can hang with the big dogs,” Tuitele said. “We may come from a small island but we’ve got a big heart.”
If any university understands that, it’s Washington.
It’s quickly turning into Hawaii U of the mainland.
Tuitele is one of five Hawaiian recruits in the class of 2019 that is committed to Washington. Coupled with the two Hawaiians who are currently Huskies, next year’s team will be filled with culture from the Pacific Island.
“There’s going to be a touch of home as I’m up there in Washington,” he said.
Defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe, who took on a key role in the recruitment of Tuitele, can be credited for a large part of this influx.
“He understands what it’s like to be from Hawaii and to go out there to the mainland and pursue a new life,” Tuitele said. “He’s definitely going to be a big aid for me in transitioning my life from Hawaii to Washington. He’s a great d-line coach as well, and he’s an even greater person.”
In this four-star, 6-foot-4, 300-pound player, Washington will be getting an athletic defensive tackle who uses a combination of power and quickness to get after the quarterback.
He is rated the No. 4 DT in the nation, per 247 Sports.
“I like to just try to overwhelm my opponent at first and then try to mix it up with some finesse at the end,” Tuitele said. “Just to get them on two different levels and get them thinking and honest.”
Even with his abilities to allow him to be aggressive or use elusive spin moves, the Hawaiian product feels like he has more to prove about himself and his culture.
“We all live with a chip on our shoulder out here,” Tuitele said. “Whenever we go out there to the states and compete … we want to show everybody what we can do.”
The All-American Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 5 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. EST.