As SMU head coach June Jones says, adversity causes some to break and others to find their destiny.
Caleb Tuiasosopo tore his ACL as a junior at Copperas Cove. He suffered the same fate as a senior and as a freshman at Tyler Junior College. But the 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker never gave up.
Tuiasosopo bounced back this season and recorded 87 tackles en route to leading Tyler JC to a win in the Football Capital of Kansas Bowl. Over the weekend, his perseverance paid off with an offer from SMU while on his official visit. On Sunday afternoon, he became the newest commit in the Class of 2014.
"SMU was the school that showed the most interest in me. I really liked their program, and I really like the way Coach Jones runs it," Tuiasosopo said. "The school itself is really prestigious. It just seemed like a good overall fit for me."
Jones has great ties to the American Samoa, where he hosts a yearly camp. Tuiasosopo's father, Jeff, was born in the American Samoa and played for Washington State. His cousin, Marques, also played college football and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders.
Tuiasosopo is glad he gets to continue the family tradition of playing at the FBS level and says he was attracted to SMU because of Jones' respect for his culture.
"My family was a big fan of his when he was at Hawaii. I have family over there, and they all really like him," Tuiasosopo said. "My meeting with him was great. He has a really laid back approach, which I like. He told me that he was happy to have me and that I could make an early impact."
Fellow Samoan and SMU freshman offensive lineman Jerry Saena served as Tuiasosopo's player host. The two bonded immediately over their background, and through Saena, Tuiasosopo was able to learn more about the program.
"It was just really cool to be around him because he's Samoan like me. We had a lot in common," Tuiasosopo said. "He told me that the team had a really close bond, which I liked. He told me to come in and work hard and that I would enjoy it."
Tuiasosopo has two years of eligibility remaining and plans on enrolling at SMU in January. He says he still has to figure everything out with admissions but does not foresee any issues.
Tuiasosopo, who also held an offer from Nicholls State, will be an inside linebacker in SMU's 3-4 scheme. With Randall Joyner and Kevin Pope both graduating, Tuiasosopo will have a chance to compete for a starting job this spring.
"Coach (Bert) Hill and Coach (Tom) Mason told me that I have an opportunity to be a big contributor for them next season. They said they really like my size and athleticism," Tuiasosopo said. "I'm just really excited."
FREE: JUCO Linebacker Commits To SMU
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