Manutai Enjoying Successful Senior Season

Beau Manutai, who celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday, is currently tied for first on team tackles. Though previously unaware of his accomplishment, Manutai was glad to hear the news saying, "Wow, that's great. I didn't know, but that's great."

Manutai, who experienced some personal setbacks due to an ankles injury during his junior year, is now glad to be back on the field as the starting middle linebacker on the ASU roster. "I feel great and healthy . . . and it feels great to be out here in practice. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed."

Being back on top his senior year is an exciting experience for Manutai, but he too is working towards becoming an even better athlete. While he wants to improve in all areas of the game he says, "If I could narrow it down to one thing it would probably be my speed," he said. "I feel like I'm really good at my reads. My speed, being one of the bigger backers, is probably my weakest spot."

Though Manutai never played football until his junior year of high school, due to his former dedication to the soccer field, he has come a long way since then. The former junior college All-American has been a positive addition to the linebacker core. Though he currently plays middle linebacker, Manutai has had a lot of experience on the outside positions as well. He said, "[the positions] are really similar, but middle linebackers is so much more fun because you're in the middle controlling everything. It's a lot more aggressive."

Recently, Manutai and ASU freshman, Mike Nixon, have both had opportunities playing middle linebacker, which has caused some to wonder whether or not there has been added competition on the field. However, Manutai says that's not the case. "Nixon is playing everywhere and anywhere," he explained. "There's no real competition, but we help each other and we kind of feed of each other. Not in a negative way, but building each other up."

Not only is Manutai a defensive asset to ASU, he is also a family man. Though one may argue that it would be a challenge balancing a family and football, Manutai begs to differ. He says, "It's great! My wife is a huge help . . . she stays home with our daughter. And it's a lot of fun. Everyday I have something to go home to."

Unknown to many, Manutai is not the only football player in his family, his father, Sai Manutai previously played professional ball in Canada and later had the opportunity to coach his son. Beau Manutai admits, "My dad had pictures of himself and he always talked about football . . . It has helped me out a lot and he's my best friend."

This weekend ASU faces off with Cal in their Pac-10 opener, a team which has proved to be a challenging game for the Sun Devils. Manutai feels that the key on defense is quite simple. "We have to contain their running back," he commented. "Defense has to make this a one dimensional team and make their quarterback throw the ball."

While he knows the challenges the team is up against, Manutai appeared ready and confidently after Thursday evening practice and stated, "This is definitely a better team than we've seen in the past. We're pumped, we're excited, and we're going to go in there and do our best to get number four!"

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