Tongan "Hulk" has official scheduled for Nebraska

We've gotten used to seeing the Polynesian players around the prep, college and professional ranks. They usually have one thing in common: They're big. Well, not to break the mold, offensive lineman Fenuki Tupou brings size and the almost typical strength that comes with the nationality. It's no wonder that he, like many other that hail from countries like Tonga and Samoa, are some of the most coveted linemen around.

At 6 foot, 6 inches tall, weighing just over 320 pounds, Fenuki Tupou is a giant. Well, compares to most around him, that is, unless it's his relation. As is typical with Polynesian families, Fenuki's size is formidable, but he'd tell you that he's related to guys a lot bigger. "Yeah, I have a few cousins that are bigger than me," he said. "I'm not the runt, but some of those guys are pretty big."

When someone that size is calling someone else big, that's not big, that's mammoth.

With his size, Tupou reaching his current height and around 290 pounds while at Center high school in Antelope, California, Ray Charles could have picked him out from the crowd. "It wasn't hard to see me out there. I was the biggest guy on the field," Fenuki said. "I guess that gave me a little bit of an advantage."

Such a disparity there was between him and most of the players he faced, Tupou could recall some of the faces of those players as they realized just who they were going against. "(laughing) Oh, they would look up at me and you could see that they seemed a little worried or something," he said. "I'd just smile, laugh a little inside, wait for the snap and just do what I do."

Basically putting it, that's called destroying people, what Tupou does, but much like his fellow Polynesians, he doesn't yell, get all fired up or go crazy out there on the field. He just "quietly" flattens anyone unfortunate to be in his way.

That ability to dominate segued just fine when Tupou entered his freshman year at Sierra Junior College in Sacramento, California. Taking his 400+ pound bench press to the JUCO level, Fenuki saw a change in size of the player he was facing, but not necessarily the results. "It's not the size of the guys, but the speed you have to get used to," he said. "You just have to get off the ball fast and get your hands on them and then it's ok."

For him, maybe, but doubtful his opponents would agree. Fenuki's effectiveness as just a freshman earned him All-Conference as his team went onto an unblemished season, winning the Mid-Empire Conference Championship along with a convincing victory in the Shrine Bowl.

That pushed Sierra's winning-streak to 29.

Junior colleges with that kind of success get all kinds of attention from Division 1-A schools, interested in some quality immediate-impact-type players and Tupou is at or near the top of a lot of lists.

Thus far, Washington State, Arizona, BYU, Colorado, Nebraska and TCU have offered Tupou in writing, but most of the Pac-10 seems to be writing letters, with schools as far east as Michigan also showing some interest right now.

Like with most things, though, Tupou takes the recruiting with interest, but not too much interest right now. "I've got some time, so I'm not too worried about narrowing it all down and trying to look at only a couple of schools," he said. "I guess there will probably be more schools that will offer, so we'll just see what happens."

He's taking it easy, but that hasn't stopped him from scheduling his first official visit, this slated to take place on October 8th, Fenuki visiting Nebraska as they host Texas Tech. As to why he's scheduled Nebraska already, Tupou said it was simple: "That's the big red, man. That's all you need to say," he said. "I've known about them for a long time."

The big red they may be, but when people look at Tupou's background, especially towards the fact that he's Mormon, most will instantly think that it's not red he'll be wearing in the future, but blue.

"I like BYU, but it's like the other schools, I haven't gotten to know a lot about every school out there," Fenuki said. "That's what I'll probably do over the summer some, but also during our bye-weeks of the season."

One of the primary reasons that many football players that are also Mormon, ultimately attend BYU, is the fact that because the university is very understanding of the missions most Mormons ultimately take. The two-year missions have a tendency to turn other schools away, because most don't want to recruit a junior college player to play two years after the date they were scheduled to show up.

For Tupou, that's probably not going to be a problem, because, though he'd like to take his mission, he doesn't think that it will happen anytime soon. "Well, my brother just left for his mission, so I'd probably not go for awhile," Tupou said. "Plus, it costs like $11,000 dollars just to take one, so that's something else I have to think about, because that's a lot."

There's always a slew of things that go through a recruit's mind as to what is going to be relevant for their future. Most kids want a team that will win titles every year, while some will take just the chance to win something, but know they are going to be playing in front of a packed house every time they compete at home.

Not Fenuki, because he doesn't care about titles, trophies or awards, as he says whatever success he has will simply be a by-product of the effort he puts in. "Everyone wants to win, but that's not why I am going to school," he said. "I want to get a degree in law, so that's what I am looking at first."

"As for what happens on the field, all I can do is the best I know how and if there are titles and all that, that's great. That's not the reason I am going to school, though. I am going so I can get an education."

Fenuki will actually have an early start on the education, the Sierra-star expecting to enroll in January next year. Having not used his redshirt year as well, he'll have that year, plus two more to complete his two remaining years of college.

You might think that Fenuki is just one of those rare sorts, physically gifted, but not engrossed by the game to the level you see so many. That would be partially correct, but Tupou says that while nobody will mistake him for a maniac on the field, he doesn't enjoy his time out there any less. "Oh, I love playing football," he said. "To go out there, be part of a team of players that you like, it's great. I'm not one of those crazy types that yells and all that, but I am pretty intense in my head."

"That's where I keep it, because I'm just not a talker, But, I still enjoy it when I knock someone down."

Big Red Report Top Stories