From 2008-2012, a young Maneko Aupiu used to pay close attention to San Jose State football because his cousin, Ina Liana, once paved running lanes and carried the football at fullback for the Spartans during those four seasons.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Aupiu has helped resuscitate a once moribund Viking football program that was known in Ventura County for going 0-10 or 1-9 six times from 2004 to 2015. But this year’s Vikings are 5-1, largely due to Aupiu becoming a Swiss army knife-type for Hueneme.
The fiery Aupiu is called upon to make the tough third down sideline grabs, power through defenses in the running game, or torpedo through an open gap on a blitz and stuff the run, regardless if he’s a linebacker or safety.
He told Scout that Spartan defensive line coach Barry Sacks has been his main contact at SJSU.
“They want me to come check out a home game before the season ends and take my unofficial visit. I haven’t gotten a chance to set that up yet, but hope to do that real soon,” Aupiu said.
The former Oxnard-Rio Mesa star Liana’s connection to SJSU isn’t the only reason Aupiu is intrigued by the Spartans. He also likes the fact that the Spartans have taken so many former stars who played in the 805; a list that includes the Paso Robles duo of Bailey Gaither (wide receiver) and Josh Oliver (linebacker), former Ventura High and Ventura College specialist Jake Lanski (placekicker) and ex-Camarillo offensive target Nico Lima (tight end).
“That helps a lot because it gives me a big boost, makes me work harder and hopefully get that offer,” Aupiu said regarding the SJSU Central Coast pipeline.
Through five games, Aupiu led Hueneme in interceptions with three, receptions with 20 and tackles per game with 10.2. But where does he envision himself playing at in college?
“I see myself playing defense. A lot of coaches want me to play safety at the next level,” Aupiu said.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t listen to a college coach who wants him on the other side of the field.
“Wherever I can do for my team, I’m there,” Aupiu said.
As he continues to play and pray for his first offer, Aupiu has listened to the advice of his former SJSU cousin, as Liana tells him to “play hard and stay humble, plus he tells me to keep fighting hard and keep my grades up.”
And how much would it mean for Aupiu to emerge as the latest Central Coast area prospect to reel in an offer?
Said Aupiu: “It would mean the world (to get an offer) because going into my senior year and not having one and barely having interest is hard. But I just keep working every day to get one.”