Fuga expects to be back by fall

Romney Fuga had been doing really well his sophomore year, until he suffered a season-ending injury against Nevada. Since then, Fuga has had to endure reconstructive surgery, rehab and a lot of pain. He's working hard this spring in the hopes he'll be back out on the field by fall camp.

After suffering an ACL and LCL injury last year, recovery has gone well for 6-foot-2-inch, 307-pound nose guard Romney Fuga.

"Physically, well, the trainers seem to think I'm doing really well," said Fuga. "They say that I'm healing really well for the kind of injury that I've got. They also said that for my size, I'm doing a lot better than expected. For the size that I am, it's a little harder to come back. I'm happy with how it's coming along."

Until he can practice with the team again, Fuga is focusing on rehabbing himself.

"Right now I'm just doing some running stuff," Fuga said. "It's not at full speed and I don't do any cutting or any team stuff. I mostly just lift, strengthen my knee and do some cardio stuff. After that, I come out onto the field to support the team."

Although he suits up and looks the part, Fuga simply watches his teammates run through team drills from the sidelines. Although he's unable to participate in practice when the defense squares off against the offense, he's happy with the progress of the defensive line.

"It's a deep defensive line," Fuga said. "It's just great to have guys like Eathyn [Manumaleuna], Hebron [Fangupo], Matt [Putnam], Graham [Rowley] and Travis [Tuiloma] out there. It takes a lot of pressure off of me. Right now I'm really comfortable with all of those guys out there. Everyone is doing really well and it's awesome to watch them play.

"I mostly watch the nose guards when I'm out here and see how they do. Whenever they come off the field and to the sideline, I tell them things that they can work on and try and help them out as best I can."

Fangupo, a USC transfer, has fared well in Fuga's absence. Tuiloma has also provided quality depth and play at the nose guard position, given that Fuga's backup, Jordan Richardson, is also recovering from a season-ending injury. There is still some work that needs to be done with Fuga's backups, but one thing is certain: they don't lack size and strength.

"Hebron is really strong and very, very powerful," said Fuga with a smile. "He's very powerful and is getting there. It's going to be fun to watch him once he gets things down, but he's doing really well and coming along. He's really close.

"Travis is also really, really strong and is doing pretty good in the middle. I feel really good about having those guys in the middle because they can control the middle of the line and allow the linebackers to move from side to side. They're getting there and once they do, they're going to be really good. Like I said, it takes a lot of pressure off of me."

Following practice, Fuga will run through some of the conditioning segments with his teammates. While his knee continues to mend, he spends most of his time in the film room.

"Well, right now I'm just watching a lot of film because since I've been gone from my injury from last season they've put in a lot of new plays," Fuga said. "I guess throughout the season I was learning new things, and when I was out I was able to see it. This spring I've been doing a lot of work in the film room to keep up with what's going on. When I'm out on the field I do a lot of mental reps."

The time when Fuga will no longer be taking just mental reps but actual team reps on the football field is projected to be during fall camp.

"I just have to keep working hard and keep praying that I'll be able to get back in. We have a lot of good players, and so I'm hoping I can come back and contribute where I can."

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