When Idaho lost defensive tackle ALEX TOAILOA last year for the season, it was an enormous blow to the D-Line. An athlete with exceptional strength and significant experience, he was being pegged as a leader. Now, triumphantly back for his senior campaign, he picks up where he left off. "Words can't even explain what I've been through to get back over here," Toailoa said, "But it feels good."

PLAYER PROFILE: Alex Toailoa, 6-1, 313, Senior, Defensive Tackle

So often, the only thing college football fans generally ever hear when a story involves athletes and academics is bad news. Well, this time the news is good. Senior defensive tackle Alex Toailoa is back in Vandal gear after missing the 2007 season; a season in which he was forced to the sidelines to focus on his studies.

So often the athlete never makes it back onto the field. But in this case, Alex did.

Alex Toailoa in action against WSU, 2006
This is outstanding news for Alex, first and foremost because it gives him the opportunity to complete his degree and fulfill his goal of playing college football for one more season. It's also outstanding news for the Vandal football team, as he will be a senior this fall and brings to the young Vandal defensive line rotation a wealth of playing experience (significant playing time as a redshirt freshman and sophomore) and phenominal strength. A highly regarded recruit coming out of high school, Alex had committed to play football at BYU, but changed his commitment to the University of Idaho shortly before signing day in 2004. After missing last season he has battled back to rejoin his teammates, and is sure to be a key member of the Idaho defense for the season opener at Arizona.

GoVandals.net's Larry Johnson caught up with Alex after the second day of practice this week, and files this interview.

LARRY JOHNSON: How does it feel to be back?
ALEX TOAILOA: "It feels good. Senior year, oh man. Words can't even explain what I've been through to get back over here, but it feels good."

LJ: Can you give us a quick recap of what it took to get back?
AT: "Well, I had to go home, I had to take extra classes back at the local JC, constant work and schooling. A lot of classes just to get back to where I am now, and I'm still doing that as we talk right now."

LJ: When you were recruited you were recruited by Nick Holt and his staff, and now you're back and now it's Robb Akey and his staff. How does it feel to be back under this staff?
AT: "It feels good. Robb Akey's a great coach. Way different, way more relaxed, not as intense as Holt was, but a great guy. A great guy."

LJ: And what do you think of the Nike gear?
AT: "Oh, man. It's better. Better than when I first got here my freshman year in 2004. We were wearing Adidas and now Nike? I think that our program has come a long way."

LJ: And when you were here in ‘04, the weight room had just opened and the locker room wasn't quite done yet. Now that's done and more, much more; so how do you feel about the facilities?
AT: "I'm just happy to experience all this, to be here still after four years and just experience all this as a senior. It feels great."

LJ: How do you feel? Do you feel you're in football shape or do you think you've got some work to do? How does your body feel right now?
AT: "My body has to get used to a couple more days, but I've been here all summer; so it shouldn't be that much work to do – but I know I've got to get better every day."

LJ: Are you saying you had a good summer in the weight room?
AT: "Yeah, I would say I had a great summer. I mean it's the first time I actually stayed here all summer from coming back from home; so yeah."

LJ: And what do you expect your role to be on the defense this year?
AT: "Just to be a leader. Being a guy with a lot of experience, I want to show the younger guys what it takes to come this far, so yeah."

LJ: And what you expect to do during the season.
AT: "During the season I expect to play hard, use my experience and what I've learned over the years. Transfer that onto the field and teach the younger players what I am able to do, and teach them what they can do to get better."

LJ: All right. Thank you very much.
AT: "Thank you very much Larry."

ALL Vandals Top Stories