Taliulu wants to make some music this spring

PULLMAN – When the Cougs enter spring drills on March 27, the most experienced player in the defensive backfield will be junior-to-be safety Taylor Taliulu with 12 starts under his belt. Taliulu recently gave Cougfan.com the inside track as to how he plans to rally the young troops and make a little music of his own this spring.

Taliulu (5-11, 196), who's coming off of a black shirt-earning performance in Midnight Maneuvers, said there's pressure now that he's stepping into a leadership role. But it's a responsibility he's also choosing to take on.

The past two seasons he's had the luxury of learning from and observing the likes of Damante Horton, Deone Bucannon and Anthony Carpenter. He said now it's time to instill the values he learned from them into the younger players.

"They taught me stuff like work ethic and getting in the film room, being prepared for your games and when you go out, try and ball out," he said. "With that group – they were a quiet group – so most of it was their actions (like) coming in seeing Deone late at night in the film room. They weren't really talkers, and when they did speak it really stuck with you."

Aside from being a captain of his high school football team, Taliulu doesn't have much leadership experience to draw from but he hopes to take the lessons he learned on the field this past season, and then set the standard with his play.

TALIULU STARTED in 10 and appeared in 11 of the Cougars' 13 games in 2013. He recorded 54 total tackles in addition to recovering a fumble.

Competition will help determine who fills the open positions in the WSU secondary, an aspect of the game which matches up with his personality.

"I'm a very competitive person, it may not look that way," he said. "I'm a chill guy, relaxed most of the time, but in my mind I'm real competitive. I want to be the best at something, I want to make other people look bad. I just want to be the best at whatever I'm doing."

The competitive nature spawned from his days as a child, when he would battle with his classmates in sports in a quest to be number one.

"We all like to have fun but at the same time we want to make sure while we're having fun, we're working our asses off," he said.

Taliulu, a Hawaii native, was drawn to WSU because it mirrored the small community feel he was used to back home, but his decision to don the Crimson and Gray wasn't always concrete.

He de-committed from WSU the weekend before signing day and verballed to Hawaii. The departure of Paul Wulff and his staff prompted Taliulu to explore other options, namely a visit to nearby Hawaii. There he was greeted by former high school teammates and foes who sold him on the idea of staying home and building up the program.

"I was pretty excited about (staying home) but after a few days it wore off," he said. "I love Hawaii, I love my hometown but at the end of the day I wanted to do it for me, make sure I had an opportunity to get out in the world and experience something different."

He grew accustomed to being surrounded by family in Hawaii -- his grandparents lived right next to him along with his three younger cousins. The distance from his family, including his parents not being able to regularly attend his games, made it difficult for him to adjust to Pullman.

Taliulu got homesick that first year, and it showed in his play. Since arriving at WSU he's only been back home three times, however his family does make it out to couple games each year. In 2013 they watched him play against Idaho and take on Stanford in the Seattle Game.

The few games his family have been able to attend, coupled with the support of his teammates have helped ease his transition to living on the mainland. Indeed, Taliulu has built some strong friendships with teammates.

"Through the spring of last year, realizing I have a good group of guys that I'm playing with, they were there to support me and that helped out," he said.

THE BOND HE'S forged with his teammates developed through football but it has been strengthened by another activity Taliulu loves -- making music.

When he's not busy with school or football, he teams up with Rickey Galvin and Isaac Dotson to work on a mixed tape. He and Dotson lay the tracks, and Galvin provides the lyrics. The tape is a work in progress, still lacking a title or a release date but he says one thing is certain, a music career is in his sights.

"I would like to take music as far as I can," Taliulu said. "That's something I really love besides football. I was doing that thing from back when I was little, making beats and all that stuff. I hope I can get into the industry and work with some famous and popular artists."

He said uses music to relax his mind, whether as a creator or as a consumer. On game days when the team travels over to Pullman from Lewiston, he turns on a playlist of rappers IamSu!, Skizzy Mars, G-Eazy to help him get loose and "swag out" a little bit.

BUT FOR NOW, a potential music producer career as well as dreams of playing in the NFL will take a back seat to Cougar football. Despite playing the game since he was 8 years old, it wasn't until his debut with Washington State that he discovered his true feelings about the sport.

"I realized I really loved football when I first ran out in that BYU game my freshman year," he said. "I knew I liked it in high school but when I really stepped out there I was like ‘dang, this is the big time.' That's when I really loved it and realized this is something I loved to do."

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