The third time was a charm for Utah senior defensive tackle Pasoni Tasini who not once, but twice failed to qualify academically to join the Utes. The third try after taking a redshirt year in 2014 to focus solely on his grades finally got him where he wanted to be: in Salt Lake City sporting the Drum and Feather.
The transition from junior college to a division one university was not exactly easy, but the patience Tasini had to practice to get his schooling in order paid off on the field as well.
“I started off at Snow [College]. I spent two and half years there. I ended up having to burn up a redshirt year in order to get school done to be able to come up here,” Tasini said. “Coming up here kind of got a slow start. Didn’t really know the defense. It was like learning to play d-line all over again. New coaches, new scheme- last year was kind of a learning year. Didn’t really get to play much but this year I feel like I learned a lot in the off-season and have been able to contribute.”
So far, Tasini has started in three games in 2016 (San Jose State, USC and Cal) and is currently tied for third in the PAC-12 in tackles for loss with 4.5 and TFL per game with 1.12. As for his rapid success he says all the thanks goes to his teammates who were gracious enough to help get him up and going within a year’s time.
“Flip (Fillipo Mokofisi) and Lowell have been a great help,” Tasini said. “They are great guys to go to if I have any questions or for any tips because they have been here so long. They know the defense and have been playing the position for a while now. Those are the guys I usually go to.”
To be able to play meaningful minutes on Utah’s defensive line in such a short turnaround is nothing short of “amazing” according to Tasini. “Everybody knows Utah is a defensive line school and we produce good d-linemen,” he said. “To be able to come in and actually contribute and help out is amazing.”
Even though it took a long time for Tasini to be able to contribute on one of the best defensive lines in the country it’s hard for him to believe he’s in his last year of eligibility. “It’s just crazy to think about how fast it went by,” he said. “As of right now things are going great. I couldn’t ask to be anywhere else.”
What Tasini has loved the most about being at Utah has been the brotherhood he’s built with the rest of the players and those are the memories he will take with him long after his playing days are over. “Definitely being with the boys and around the boys. Being around my brothers.”
The immediate plan for Tasini after he is done at Utah is to give the NFL a go, but if that doesn’t work out he plans to put his hard earned communications degree to use, possibly even as a sports broadcaster. “The plan is to go to the NFL,” he said. “If that doesn’t work the plan is to take my degree and use it wherever I can.”
As Tasini starts preparing for life after the Utes he hopes the fans know how hard he worked to be a part of the team and how much he appreciates their support along the way. “I came in, didn’t complain about playing time. Just waited my turn,” he said. “I was about them and we love our fans.”
Tasini also would like anyone who is struggling to know hard work can overcome just about any obstacle; after all he’s living proof of that. “Work hard, keep working hard,” he said. “Everything is not set in stone, you have to work for what you want and that’s how it’s always been.”