Trenches-Ready Tu’iklolavatu

April 6th, 2017

You just knew Joe would have a soft spot for drafting a quality football player who thrived playing at 6-1, 350 pounds last season.

Throw in that the guy lived in his car for a while — at that size — and, well, Joe is damn impressed.

Joe’s talking about University of Southern California defensive tackle Stevie Tu’iklolavatu. He’s slimmed down now to 330 and last night USC head coach Clay Helton raved about him on SiriusXM NFL Radio for being a a plug-and-play NFL prospect.

Tu’iklolavatu is a unique story, a married guy who turns 26 this summer. His football career was delayed by charitable missions.

Regarding living in a car, Tu’iklolavatu couldn’t get housing at USC until his transfer from Utah was official. The LA Times wrote a neat story on it. Here’s an excerpt:

They settled into a routine. At dawn, they’d work out in the sand. Then Kalo would drop him off at USC while she hunted for a job. At around 5 p.m., she’d pick him up.

Kalo outfitted the car with shower curtains to keep out the sun. They showered at the beach. They found a favorite spot atop a parking garage in Huntington Beach, where they could wake early to view the sun rise over the Santa Ana foothills and bathe in the sprawl of Orange County.

On weekends, they’d work out early, then spend the rest of the day swimming or exploring. “We were basically all around the coast,” Kalo said. “We were little hippies.”

Toward the end of the day, they’d buy meat from a Dollar Tree and barbecue on the beach, using a grill Tu’ikolovatu had rigged from an aluminum-foil pan, pieces of wood and lighter fluid.

(There’s much more in the piece linked above.)

Coach Helton confidently says Tu’ikolovatu’s game is as mature as his age. He was the pulse of the USC defense, Helton said, and he’s NFL-ready because of his seasoning and savvy, in addition to his strength. Tu’ikolovatu’s uncle, Sione Pouha, played seven years at defensive tackle with the New York Jets.

Tu’ikolovatu is considered a powerful NFL-caliber run stuffer with surprising agility and the necessary strength. He’s widely projected as a third-day draft pick, perhaps a sixth-rounder.

The Bucs could use a guy like Tu’ikolovatu to fill the loss of Akeem Spence, and to help get the team younger on the interior of their D-line. Newcomer Chris Baker, Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald have 23 seasons of combined wear on them.

Besides, who wouldn’t want a Tu’ikolovatu jersey?

23 Responses to “Trenches-Ready Tu’iklolavatu”

  1. DayOnePaul Says:

    Do Samoan defensive linemen ever bust?
    I’ll take him.

  2. Ben the Ga Buc Says:

    He’s Polynesian. He was bred to play football. Would be a great pickup.

  3. Dewey Selmon Says:

    I’ve had dollar tree meat. Tastes exactly like poverty.

  4. BUC_40 Says:

    Would love to get this guy! Helps give us depth and makes us tougher up the middle!

    PS – Anyone on PS4 hit me up add me (BUC_40) I just started a JoeBucsFan and Bucs Uncensored Communitiy page to link up with other Buc fan gamers!

  5. 813bucboi Says:

    i’ll take him….either him or Dalvin Tomlinson in the later rounds…GO BUCS!!!

  6. Cobraboy Says:

    He’s 26. How much football is left in him?

  7. America's Commenter Says:

    If he’s available in the 6th round, take him. Getting 4 to 6 solid seasons out of a 6th round pick would be a huge feather in Licht’s cap.

  8. Mike Johnson Says:

    HE’s got that football pedigreed in him. Betcha he pans out big for somebody.
    These polynesians only have one speed. And we’ve all seen it. He will make some team very happy. Probably won’t be us though Good luck to him.

  9. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    Anyone who can actually eat Dollar Tree Meat, is one bad mofo.
    Plus, he is Mormon, and will have plenty of Mormons to pray for him, if he comes down with MRSSA.

  10. Pickgrin Says:

    Meat from Dollar Tree?? The dollar tree stores near me don’t even have a refrigeration area. Are we talking ‘Spam’ or some kind of “meat” in a can?

    MMMM Spam sandwich….

    We could probably use another developmental DT depending on how they feel about Silga or whatever the UDFA big dude’s name is. Although with McCoy, Baker and McDonald already at DT – and with Ayers and Gholston able to play inside as well – perhaps better to use that roster spot for another edge rushing specialist.

  11. Tampabayucfan Says:

    This makes draft prospect number 744……lots of potential Bucs out there.

  12. Buccfan37 Says:

    Dollar Tree meat… anyone for Chinese chicken?

  13. LocalJoker Says:

    We’ve already got our Somoan. Big wide a$$ Sealver Siliga 6-2 345 26 4 Utah. Thanks, but no thanks!

  14. Wausa Says:

    It would have to be a 6th or 7th round pick for the Bucs to draft him.

  15. Pa Privateer Says:

    Absolutely take him. I now we have Siliga but there is nothing wrong with having depth and growth for when Baker leaves in 2-3 years. I would love this pick.

  16. Mike Johnson Says:

    Here out West guys, Dollar tree be stackin meat in their refrigerated boxes. Weiners/hanburger/sausages/chicken. Yep..and a lot of it is..rejected stuff from the supermarkets. I’ve not tried it. But my son says the weenies taste like rubber and the chicken nuggets are as hard as real gold nuggets! Dollar tree in da house y’all!!!!

  17. CalBucsFan Says:

    Watched him play often, he is a run stuffer with a motor that doesn’t turn off, a real bull dog mentality. Would make an excellent rotation player and worthy of a day 3 pick.

  18. Brandon Says:

    Overaged offensive and defensive linemen have a very poor history of success in the NFL. Gaines Adams was 24 coming out of college (a 6 year collegiate journey), Peria Jerry was 25, Danny Watkins was something like 26, and there’s been numerous others…many coming from service academies or BYU…and few of them have worked out. Why? Because they are men playing against boys in college. When they turn pro they are just men playing other men and unlike the boys they played against in college, they never get bigger, stronger, or faster.

    This guy might be a decent value in round 6, but typically overaged OL/DL do not do well in the NFL.

  19. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    We had a decent player who spent time living in his car years ago. Trying to remember who it was…Zuttah? Penn? Anyone remember?
    Earnest Graham. –Joe

  20. BucAllThat Says:

    @BucBonz – I think you are referring to Earnest Graham he was homeless for a stint and had a great turn around story with us if I’m not mistaking….

  21. RustyRhinos Says:

    I’ve had dollar tree meat. Tastes exactly like poverty. This is the truth for sure I have had a few meals from the dollar tree meat section, not good at all.

  22. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    Buccaneer Bonzai Says:
    “We had a decent player who spent time living in his car years ago. Trying to remember who it was…Zuttah? Penn? Anyone remember? ”

    Yes, it was Carl Nicks Bonzai, remember him ?
    Once he got MRSSA, his wife threw him, and his MRSSA Toe out of the house.

  23. Bucsfanman Says:

    Earnest Graham!!!! Wow! Loved that guy!