Fuimaono ready to be back

Sani Fuimaono has not played college football since 2011, but is in line to get snaps on Saturday. Read on for his thoughts on being back, staying loyal, and more

When Sani Fuimaono last played a game at Arizona, Mike Stoops was the head coach. Now that he is back, he is in a new scheme and playing for a new coach, but the excitement remains the same.

"This is an exciting moment to be able to come back and strap it up, especially coming back from this injury," Fuimaono said. "It’s good to get the camaraderie with the team and be a part of it. It’s been a long time. Thanksgiving 2011 is the last time I suited it up, so I have to stay focused and hone in on the little stuff."

Fuimaono's return came a little later than he originally expected, as he had to come back from a foot injury. Fortunately for him and the rest of the Wildcats, the recovery went smoother than anticipated.

"We were at practice doing a defensive line drill," Fuimaono said. "It was like a week before camp started and it just gave out. It’s all good now. We’re all strapped up and ready to go.

"The recovery went quicker than everyone thought. It definitely surprised everybody, but the coaches believed in me and what I could do trying to bring me back. Everything is pretty 100 percent. I am still working at it, but I haven't felt it during practice.

"I am doing my rehab and making sure I am taking care of what I need to take care of off the field to perform the way I am supposed to and want to. It was definitely frustrating, but I try to stay positive and understand things happen for a reason. I just have to keep moving forward."

When discussing the difficulties of returning back to football, Fuimaono actually does not point to his injury.

"The most difficult part of coming back is just trying to be patient with myself," he said. "It’s football. I have been playing football for a while now, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty of it all, I just have to focus on the fundamentals and basics. It all comes with repetition."

Fuimaono has gotten numerous compliments about how good of shape he was when he came back to Tucson and in order to make sure he did that, the defensive lineman had to get creative.

"I was in rural areas and they didn't have much stuff," he said. "Chile is a first world country, but in some areas it is second world, third world. I had to get creative with it.

"I didn't have much time or resources, but I did the best I could. I would use boxes, loading them up with books and putting them on my back or just loading up my bag with cans and going running and stuff."

With a change of coaches, it would be understandable if Fuimaono had second thoughts. Instead, he chose to stay loyal to Arizona.

"I met with Rodriguez once before I left," Fuimaono said. "He just told me to take care of my mission and when it is time to come back to come back and move forward.

"With the coaching change and the loyalty they had and the deal I made with Coach Stoops, I felt I owed it to the University to come back. I loved it my first year here and I knew I had some work to do when I came back and now that I am back I am trying to get some work done."

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