Q&A with Vaka Manupuna

Senior Vaka Manupuna enters his fifth year at Colorado, and his second as the team's starting nose tackle. Inside, Manupuna talks about the upcoming season, the freshmen defensive linemen, and his future beyond Colorado.

Q: When are you going to be done with your ethnic studies major?
Vaka Manupuna:
I'll be done in December. But I guess you don't get your diploma until May.

Q: What are you going to do during the spring semester? Prepare for the NFL combine?
VM:
Yeah, just great ready for the combine. Hopefully, I'll get a shot (to play in the NFL).

Q: Have you gotten any word from people that NFL scouts are looking at you?
VM:
I've got some word from the coaches. The problem with me is being consistent at making plays. So I'm just working on that right now. I've heard they're looking at me. That motivates me.

Q: How much do you weigh right now?
VM:
Right now I'm having a real hard time keeping my weight up. I'm at 285-290. Somewhere in that range. But now that camp's over and all that running, that'll help.

Q: What is the big difference between camp, and the practices now as you head toward game week?
VM:
Camp is more towards giving guys a chance. There's pretty much no starters. Camp is for looking at new players, guys who have something to show. This past Saturday's scrimmage, that was a big test. I'm thankful I've still got my (starting) spot. We've got two weeks until game time. So I've still got two weeks to get myself more prepared.

Q: Tell me about playing under Coach Inge, now that you've been with him a spring and August camp. What's different about playing your position under him, vs. under Coach Wilson?
VW:
Honestly, the teaching and everything about the d-line hasn't changed. Personality-wise, it's a change, big time. Having Coach Inge for the spring and the summer, I understand now how he is, I know his personality. It was a big difference. But like I say, football-wise, it's not that different. You've still got to attack the pressure point and whatnot.

Q: Seniors on CU teams are always expected to be leaders. How is that for you? Are you comfortable in that role?
VW:
I'm not a verbal type of guy. I'm real quiet. I let my actions speak. But I think (being a team leader) is going good. If I do make more plays and, like I say, let my actions speak, then that'll show the underclassmen how it's done.

Q: Speaking of the underclassmen. There's a lot of talk about the freshmen defensive linemen. Tell me about them.
VW:
The freshman class has some big-time players. I think we've got a great future ahead with them. They're big. They've got potential to get bigger. Especially Maurice Lucas. I see a lot of potential in that cat. Overall, they take coaching well. They listen.

Q: What about George Hypolite. It looks like he's going to play, maybe even against Colorado State.
VW:
Yeah. He was a big surprise. The same way as Mo Lucas, he's good. But I guess he's making more plays. George takes coaching real well. But not only that. He does more than just take coaching, he gets it done.

Q: How about on the other side of the ball. You go up against Jack Tipton some. How has he improved?
VW:
He's improved a lot. I think he's realized he's going to be a big part of our offensive scheme. He's realized he's got to be a starter and has to step up. He's being a lot more serious about his work. He's more in his playbook, doing extra stuff. He's trying to keep his spot. He's going to be a good player.

Q: You guys have a lot of different uniform combinations. What's your favorite?
VW:
I like all black. Just because our meeting room is like a dungeon. It's like the dark side. I just like the look. When we come out and our opponents see us, it's crazy.

Q: Which game are you most looking forward to playing this year?
VW:
Well, the first game is always important. But I'm really looking forward to Texas A&M. Last year, it was a really close game (A&M won 29-26 in OT). We owe it to ourselves. It's payback. We lost on their home field. This time it'll be the same way. I'm really looking forward to A&M.


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