Vaimoe Sekona: His Coach’s Take

Crespi Carmelite High School head coach Troy Thomas has coached a handful of players in high school who are currently on NFL rosters. He says that Vaimoe Sekona has the talent and ability to one day become his next NFL player. With National Signing Day on Wednesday, we recently visited with Thomas about Sekona and his future with the OSU Cowboys.

What are Vaimoe’s strengths as a football player?
Thomas: He’s got a lot of strengths. He’s a very tough kid. He comes from a tough neighborhood and has had a pretty tough upbringing. I think he enjoys the physical part of football.

What are the areas that he’ll need to improve to play in the Big 12 Conference?
Thomas: I just think it would probably be experience. He’s a big kid. He’s close to 6-5 and 300 pounds, and he’s lean. He’s not a fat kid at all. I think the biggest thing is there is a big change in level of play from high school to that level, so it’s just going to take time for him to make the adjustment. He’s a very experienced player, he’s been on the varsity for three years and he’s played in what is considered the toughest division in California, and we’re in one of the toughest leagues in the nation in that division. So he’s played against some really good players. They’re obviously all good at that level, so I think the biggest thing is going to be him adjusting to the level of play, and the strength of every player he faces. I think it will probably take a year and a half, two years for him to make that jump or to make a big contribution to the team.

Is there one play or one game that you’ll always remember about Vaimoe?
Thomas: He did have two interceptions this year, which is kinda funny for a defensive lineman. He did return one for a touchdown. He tipped it up to himself and then there were some guys who tried to tackle him but they couldn’t. He’s definitely a very good athlete and his upside is very high.

You sound like one of Vaimoe’s biggest supporters. Why?
Thomas: We’re excited to get him off to college because I think he’s going to have a much more stable environment. There are just some things here in California that I’m excited for him to get away from. The sky is the limit for this kid. I've got four kids in the NFL right now that I coached in high school [offensive lineman Matt Kalil with the Minnesota Vikings, tight end Troy Niklas with the Arizona Cardinals, tight end Joseph Fauria with the Detroit Lions, and defensive lineman Sione Fua with the Cleveland Browns], and this kid has the size, strength and ability to play at a very, very high level. Now whether he realizes that potential or not is really up to him, and that’s also why we’re excited that he’s going to get away from California. If he can get out there (to Oklahoma State) and get it going, I think he’s going to be very good.

Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Thomas: I think he has a relative on the coaching staff. He got recruited by everybody out here, and I think for him just having somebody that he trusted was something that was going to be big for him.

What type of person is Vaimoe away from football? Can you talk a little bit about his character traits?
Thomas: Like I said, he’s had a tough life. We’ve really worked hard with him on making good choices and staying out of trouble. He hasn’t always done that, to be honest with you. I came in between his sophomore and junior season and we really worked hard with him to keep him going in the right direction. That’s why again … this kid is a really, really talented kid, he’s very big, he’s very physical, he’s very tough, and that’s why we’re excited to get him out of here. The thing is, he’s not afraid to work. He enjoys football, and he enjoyed being a part of the team. He cares about his teammates. It’s just when he’s away from us that we’re worried about it.

What will you remember the most about coaching him?
Thomas: When I have a really big player sometimes I choose him to be our captain, and so I did choose him this year to go out for the coin toss. Just before the games, me and him would meet on the sideline to talk about it, and have that moment where we were talking about what we were going to do but also to remind him that I needed him to be the leader for the other guys. A lot of Polynesian are very respectful, and he’s that way. Just those moments before a game where it was just me and him, and those are going to be the times that I remember. Of course, all the football stuff. He’s had some great hits and tackles and blocks. He played both ways, and played the whole game for two years basically except for kickoffs and kickoff returns. He’s definitely a special guy.

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