Unga considering name change for Saturday

Having transferred from Oregon State to BYU, Cougar middle linebacker Uani Unga will face his twin brother Feti Unga, who still dons the orange and black of the Beavers. The twins might be separated by different jerseys, but they're not separated at heart. That doesn't mean, however, that Uani hasn't tried to stir the brotherly banter just a little.

"He hasn't really tried, but I've tried to throw it out there and try to get a little brotherly argument going or maybe a bet," said Uani Unga about his twin brother. "I just kind of threw it out there, saying that, ‘Your first loss will be coming this weekend' and ‘Watch out.' He never responded to that and was just teasing. I think he's just kind of keeping it on the low and trying to get a surprise on us."

While there might not be much banter going on, the two Unga twins do call each other up following their games.

"We talk to each other after each weekend and we congratulate each other, and even do that with our younger brothers in high school," said Unga. "We all have that love for each other."

When it comes to family, the Tongan people take great pride in taking care of each other. While growing up, Uani and Feti were always provided for no matter how difficult it was. Much of that can be laid at the feet of their mother Ofa, whose name means love in the Tongan language. Ofa always lived up to her name through the example she provided for her children.

"She's been a hardworking mother all her life," said a reverent Uani Unga. "She was working many jobs and didn't stay home much. She was always out working and would hardly sleep at night. She would only sleep about five hours and that was it, and then would take us to football practice and things like that to give us everything we could have."

In an effort to show his ofa – or love and gratitude – for his mother and everything she's done over the years, Feti has worn her last name on his Oregon State jersey to pay tribute to her.

"Throughout this whole season, my brother has been using the name Taumoepeau on his jersey," said Uani. "It's in honor of my mom and that's her maiden name. My brother is doing that to honor her and everything she's done to get us here. This might be the last time he'll wear a jersey, so he's wearing the name Taumoepeau on the back for her to show her the love that she's always shown him."

With this being Feti's senior year at Oregon State, the name change of honor is fitting. And although Uani still has another year of eligibility at BYU, having redshirted last year after transferring from Oregon State in 2010, BYU just might see the name "Taumoepeau" on the back of a black BYU jersey for this Saturday's game.

"I'm going to try and work out the same thing with them for this game," said Uani. "I'm going to try and do as my brother has done all season. I'm going to try and be able to have my mom's name on the back of my jersey this game, so no matter how the game goes, she'll win no matter what."

Since this is Feti's last season, this will also be the last time their parents Ofa and Chris Unga will see their twin boys playing on the same field together. It will also be the first time the Unga family will be gathered together at LaVell Edwards Stadium to watch their boys play.

"We're making a shirt that has both BYU and Oregon State logos on them," said Uani. "Then on the back the shirts will say, ‘Taumoepeau 41' because both me and my brother wear the number 41. So, it will work out perfectly."

However, Uani feels his family loyalty is leaning a little more towards one of the teams.

"Oh yeah, every family member is going to be out here. I do feel that my family is leaning towards Oregon State though a little bit," Uani said with a suspicious smile. "I think it's just because they have more of a chemistry with them. They know more of the Oregon State players and have followed them for four years now, and they know all the players' parents and have a strong tie to Oregon State. But they know I'm here, so they give love to both teams."

Who knows, maybe this will be Uani's chance to help convert his family over to BYU a little more. With him still having one more year to play at BYU after this one, it could happen.

"Yup, yup, so it will be nice to have them all here cheering us both on," said Uani with a smile.

Or is it Taumoepeau now? I guess we'll have to wait until game time to find out.


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