The 6-3 345 Martin Tevaseu has yet to turn 18 years old. Needless to say that his physical attributes show maturity, however when you listen to the circumstances that he has dealt with during his young life, it's easy to realize why he's wiser beyond his years. "I lived at a group home my whole high school career," he said. "I never had a childhood, so I just had to grow up fast. Nobody was raising me. I was pretty much raising myself."
Many individuals in his situation can fall victim to their circumstances. Not only did he not let his environment get the best of him, but he's also trying to create success stories for others, through his position as a child care worker. "I'm structuring a program for 10-15 teenagers who have been reprimanded by the court," he explained. "At times they can be difficult, but we find a way to get through to them. We do use sports as a vehicle to teach them intensity, being consistent, and building character."
Success at Arizona State would obviously mean a lot to Tevaseu, but he never fails to see the bigger picture. "If I succeed I set them a great example," he commented. "A lot of those kids don't go to high school, let alone college. My older brother is finishing at TCU, and he went through the same training. So this program can really help some kids."
Tevaseu is a rare commodity in the world of college football prospects. Due to the fact that he was a qualifier out of high school, he wasn't required to get his AA degree from his junior college, in order to play at a four-year school such as ASU. Furthermore, he has three years of eligibility remaining and a window of four years to exhaust it. Thus, his situation was extremely attractive to recruiters who came to see him at Santa Rosa (Calif.) JC. "A lot of the times coaches would discover me when they came to my college looking at sophomores," he remarked. "Coaches that come to look at those players usually don't pay attention to the freshmen. Those coaches would just discover me and talk to my coach, thinking that I would only be eligible to leave Santa Rosa next year."
His football future started to define itself early in his freshman campaign. The Bear Cubs were one of the premier junior college programs in California. Their style of play wasn't regulated to an explosive offensive, but was also defined by a stifling defense that posted shutouts in three of its four first games last year. Therefore, it was a prominent stage for Tevaseu to display his skills. Ironically, this first-team all-league player thought he might have to sit out his first year with the Bear Cubs. "I had no idea that I could go to a four-year college out of high school," he recalled. "I didn't even go through the NCAA clearing house (to gain academic eligibility for a four-year college) after my senior year of high school. I was really thinking about redshirting at Santa Rosa, and not playing at the next level. During my freshman year, I was 17 and going up against players that were 22, and I thought that because of that five years difference, I need to go and redshirt, so I can get bigger, stronger, and faster. At the end I obviously played."
The defensive tackle collected 40 tackles, five quarterback sacks and three pass breakups in 2005, and entertained the possibility of leaving Santa Rosa early last fall. "When Nebraska started recruiting me after three games, I knew that I may be not playing another year at Santa Rosa," he said. "My coaches kept asking if I wanted to go out. When teams would come to scout players, my coaches always told them that I was a freshman that is eligible to come out after one year. My coaches were great, because they were helping me out and not forcing me to play another year of JC when I didn't have to."
Boise State was the first school to offer him a scholarship. Eventually, he visited them, as well as Colorado and BYU. His visit to Tempe was his last, and obviously his most enjoyable one. "I just loved the whole feel of the place, how people interacted with each other," he explained. "It was fun out there. I didn't choose ASU because of the pretty girls, but they're a nice byproduct (laughs)."
Tevaseu is on track to qualify academically, and plans to come to his new surroundings in June to attend the off-season conditioning program, as well as take some summer school classes. "I'm relentless on the field," he said as he self-assessed his attributes. "I do need to work on protecting myself from the cut-block. Right now I'm at 345 pounds. I played at 338 at Santa Rosa, but I'll drop some weight when I get there. I do have a weight room at home, and right now I'm just working hard there."
Junior college transfers are always expected to make an immediate impact. Tevaseu's age and eligibility makes him a rare exception to the typical transfer, and one could definitely understand if he did end up redshirting his first year at ASU. Nevertheless, he doesn't have any apprehension of playing at the next level. If he can't make a contribution early in his tenure, it surely won't be for lack of effort. "If I can hit the ground running, and not get caught up with learning the defense and stuff like that, I'll be OK," he said. "If it takes me a while to get aquatinted with everything, then I'll redshirt. I'm coming with the mind set that I'm getting after it when I get there."
Thus far, Martin Tevaseu has been a success story on and off the field. This fall, he's about to face the biggest challenges he has ever encountered on the gridiron. Nevertheless, his accomplishments in life and remarkable character are bound to aid him in his mission of exhibiting excellence in every facet of his life.
High School/Junior College
Anderson Valley High School, Santa Rosa Junior College
Date of birth
Favorite TV show
"Jamie Foxx Show."
Favorite pro team
Person you most admire
"Jack Graves. He's my mentor, pretty much like a father to me. He's the director of the group home I went to."
First football memory
"My first year playing was my freshman year in high school. I just remember how slow I was (smile)."
One thing most people don't know about me
"I'm interested in politics. I was the student body president in high school."
Why did you choose ASU?
"I just liked the feel of it."
Where do you want to be in ten years?
"Owning my own business, maybe the group home I work at."
Introducing the 2006 Class - Martin Tevaseu
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