"T.J.'s best attributes are his explosiveness off the line and motor," says Burbank assistant James Pale, who will be accompanying Poloai to Pullman this weekend. "He is a little undersized, but his first two steps are the best of anyone I have had here. We had an idea in one of our playoff games for him to try and steal the ball on the center snap. He did it twice."
Besides physical ability, Pale wants Cougar fans to know that they are getting a high-character young man as well.
"He is an awesome kid," said Pale. "He came from very humble beginnings, his whole family has come through the Burbank program, like three generations, he is the best of them."
Poloai had a successful senior season, leading the Titans deep into the state playoffs. Personal success followed as he was named to the Sacramento Bee's All-County team.
Poloai committed to Washington State back in September having never been to the state of Washington.
"They were the school that was calling the most and that offered first," said Poloai. "My coach from high school is also gonna be there (working), so that is cool."
Indeed, Burbank High defensive line coach Dave Lose is headed to WSU, presumably as a student assistant, (not a graduate assistant), according to the Facebook page of the Titan's football team.
Poloai struggled to find an answer when asked what has made him such a dominant player.
"I have no clue, I just go out and play the game and try to do what I'm asked," said Poloai. "I do think my lifting helps. I may not be able to lift as much as some guys out there, but I focus on being able to do a ton of reps."
Poloai will be part of a growing corps of Cougars of Polynesian descent and, by the looks of his game photos, he could prove a worthy rival to Sekope Kaufusi for most hair coming out the back of the helmet.
Jake Worthen is a West Recruiting Analyst for Scout.com.