No Problem. You're most welcome.
What influenced your decision to come to USC? Is it true that Norm Chow might have been a little bit of an influence?
I was a Junior college transfer looking to play at the next level. When I got my initial offer from USC, I was balancing out between BYU and Nebraska. USC was a program where four of the starting offensive linemen left and the only person left returning was Fred Matua. So my chances were good at earning a starting spot. On top of that, Coach Chow recruited me hard. He was a BYU legend and I was big fan growing up. Having him recruiting me was amazing. He was a big influence on me going to USC.
Is it true that you are called Deuce because most people can't pronounce your name? What does Taitusi mean and where does it come from?
They call me "Deuce" because it is short for my first name, which is pronounced "Dye-Dusi." I was named after my grandfather. It translates to the name "Titus." People don't call me Deuce just because I am big. (Laughs.)
When you were 6 years old, your sister passed away in a tragic accident. How has this experience affected you in terms of maturity as well as the kind of person you are today?
It was something that caused the rebuilding of my family. My parents were physically hurt from the accident. My brother and my father were both in a coma. My father had to relearn English, and my brother had to relearn certain things, as well. Because both of my parents suffered physical injuries, the children had to help support by driving them around, handling basic physical tasks, and translating. Through that trial that we went through, the accident allowed us to grow together and stick close to each other and it is something we have to deal with.
It got our attention that each day may be your last. She was the youngest in the family. Things happen for a reason. And so we chose to live life the best we could. It's helped me mature in a lot of ways, and maybe makes me a better husband and father. Outside of my football at USC, training, practice, also with school and tutors and all that stuff, there's another world I go home to. I have an outside responsibility outside all of that, which is my wife and my son. I think going through my life experiences starting with the accident and on up has made me mature and responsible as young person. It's helped me so much right now. Seeing my family and my son grow is a great thing.
You moved to guard last year. What are your thoughts on the move, and what drove you to lose a lot of weight for that position?
When I came into USC, I was at 396. I had to get down. I played tackle at 375 and my senior year I got moved to left guard when Winston Justice came back. Being moved motivated me to be one of the top 5 linemen, to be a greater player. For me, losing a lot weight to get down to 340 was the greatest thing. Next to cake! (Laughs.) Through the season, the weight just gradually went down. I was fortunate to be named All-American and get Pac-10 honors. This past season was my first season playing guard. I was always a tackle.
As far as the NFL goes, I believe I can play anywhere on the line. I love competing anywhere they put me. As long as I'm out there is what counts for me.
What's your favorite part of playing on the offensive line?
Probably the eating! The offensive line can eat. We are on a different diet. It's strict gainage! (Laughs.) Seriously, my favorite part is the physical part that comes with the position and territory. It's a fun thing on film watching me hustle down field to hit another person after my block. Sometimes I get flagged for a late hit but that's just part of me being a competitor. It's a fun thing to get to hit people.
Being on the Offensive Line isn't exactly the most glamorous position. You're not the quarterback or the running back, but you guys are the ones that make sure that Matt Leinart has the space to throw and that Reggie Bush has lanes to run through.
As an offensive lineman, I get my glory from other people's success. Not a lot of people talk about us. After the game, it aches and there is pain, but knowing that Matt or Reggie gained over 300 or 400 yards, we get our glory from their success.
Do you have a favorite play or favorite block?
I have a favorite play that we ran a lot in practice, but never ran it in the game. It was called a "tackle eligible." It basically means that one of the tackles gets the ball. Leinart throws the ball to him we go run down field and block for another fat guy. We never ran that play.
During an actual game, my favorite play was the quarterback sneak at Notre Dame. It was to the left. I had no doubt that we were going to win. Before the last play, I was thinking we had to get this done. We were just gathering up. Either spike the ball or jump in to win. I heard Matt talk to Reggie if he should sneak it in or not. I was pushing for dear life. It was the most dramatic play. I was so drained. It was so emotional. It was the greatest thing in the world.
Your teammates say that you are the best dancer on the team. You've been quoted as saying "I have light feet."
(Laughs.) My teammates said that? I'm a clown. I mess around a lot. I don't break dance, but I break things. I do whatever. In the weight room or before the game, I just dance to get myself loose and get those jitters out of me. At the Hawaii game, they were playing "Hawaii 5-0" music, so I was doing the "row the canoe" [Deuce demonstrates with his arms the motions of rowing a canoe]. Some people in the stands thought I was a local guy. It was a fun thing. I've danced at traditional Polynesian style dances at luaus, weddings, and stuff like that. It's all cultural movement. I also play the guitar, and I mess around on the ukulele, piano, and the bass.
You're son Inoke was born shortly after the Orange Bowl in January 2005, on your way back from the game. Was your playing affected at all knowing your wife, Pua, had gone into labor before the game started?
My wife was in labor during the game. She had a chance to stay in the hospital during the game but she wanted to stay home, watch the game, and support her hubby. She was in labor that morning. She called me later that afternoon saying she was in labor. This was happening as we just arrived to the stadium to get dressed. My mind was on getting back to my wife and son. I was just thinking of playing that game real fast. Get in and get out. Coach Chow knew. I was determined to play fast and be physical to get on a plane as fast as I can. As soon as the game was over, I was in a rush to get a red eye flight back home. I got to hear his [Inoke's] voice as I just got off the plane.
There seems to be a special bond between the Polynesian players on the team. Tell us about it.
We had Samoans, Hawaiians, and Polynesians. Chauncey Washington was our little Hawaii. I didn't believe him until he bought his whole family to one spring practice and they looked Polynesian Hawaiian. Hershel Dennis is half and so is Chauncey. Kaluka Maiava, Ray Maualuga, Fred Matua, Hershel Dennis, Malu, Fili Moala, Salo Faraimo, and Travis Tofi. That's our crew. We all hang out. We go kick it somewhere. It's a special bond. We all connected right away like we were brothers. I borrow Fred's clothes because he has better stuff. Instead of wearing my lava-lava to class I took some of Fred's nice clothes. We see each other on campus and we'd be like "Hey, that's mine." In fact, I still have some of his clothes. He'd probably be mad at me if he read this! (Laughs.) We argue like brothers. We are all close. I have a strong relationship with all the Polynesians on the team. Particularly, I am related to Fili and Tiny.
Why is the Offensive Line the funniest and closest group on the team?
We'll do anything to get noticed on Saturdays! We're funny because we have to be. We do the dirty work. We battle in and out of practices. We don't miss a beat. It comes with the package of being a lineman. You've got to have personality.
Is Fred Matua as loud as everybody says he is?
Fred is loud! He's a kind of guy that sets the tempo for the guys. He gets everybody in shape. My first year at USC, he broke the ice for me and showed me the ropes. He is all high tempo.
I know that different members of the team try to play pranks on each other. Does the Offensive Line contribute to any of those pranks?
Everybody has had a chance to do a prank on each other. One day, I was in a study session with Chilo Rachal. We were bored doing homework all day. So we decided to crank call Coach Ruel. I called coach Ruel in a different voice posing as an officer of the LAPD. I told him I had one of his kids, Winston Justice. He was so shocked and angry. He said he'd get to the station right away. Then we said, "Coach, don't go to the station, it's just us!." When Coach [Ruel] asked who it was, I answered, "Fred [Matua]!" (breaks out laughing).
Since your favorite part of being an offensive lineman is eating, who ate the most at the Lawry's Beef Bowl?
It was Fred Matua all the way. I think he ate 35 pounds worth of beef. Chilo ate a lot too. Actually, I think it was Clay Matthews.
Compare the styles of Tim Davis and Pat Ruel's style of coaching.
As a coach, Tim Davis is an overachiever in a good way. He pushes us to the limit as far as what he expects of an offensive lineman. He taught me a lot of things a tackle. Coach Ruel helped a lot when I had to move to the guard position. He is more about technique. Coach Ruel is a teacher that helped us one by one, play by play. He broke down everything one at a time.
You're wife and family must be proud and can't wait to see you get drafted.
It's a humbling experience I went through. My wife and son. My past two years at USC have been enjoyable and memorable. I came from Tonga and I am proud of where I came from. I want to represent my family and culture to the fullest.
What are you going to be doing on your last week before draft day? Where will you be on draft day?
I'm going to prepare myself for minicamp. Just trying to get in shape and get ready for the next level. I'm probably just going to have a barbeque with mom and dad and family, all of us at my house. It's going to be a ride.
Do you have any advice for fellow lineman and soon to be father Kyle Williams?
I think he'll be more ready than I was. He is a great guy that's level-headed and he'll be a great father. For my son's first birthday, Kyle got him an Escalade toy truck. The truck was souped up and had spinners. I think out of all the other lineman, my son likes Kyle the most. My advice for Kyle is an inside joke: "STRIKE!"
What are you going to miss the most from USC?
The fans and the teammates I had. It was so unique where a team had so much talent. They're all playmakers. I'm going to miss the tradition at USC. I'll miss Heritage Hall. I love everything at USC.
Your son, Inoke, has been wearing #5 jersey throughout this interview. Why isn't he wearing #71?
My [1 ½ year-old] son's a big Reggie Bush fan. He doesn't know that his father helps do his dirty work! There's no #71 jersey in the bookstore. I've tried to convince him that I've blocked for Reggie. (Laughs.)
Any last words for Trojan fans everywhere?
Fight On! I express the love from me and my family. I love everybody there in the Trojan family.
Deuce, wife Pua and son Inoke