A devout Christian with tremendous inner drive and a fierce focus on football, Tua Talia is a 6-5, 290-lb. defensive tackle with the size and athletic ability to play on Sundays.
He chose Oregon over the Washington Huskies on June 6th and visited in August. Currently a sophomore at Diablo Valley Junior College, he leads his team with 43 tackles after seven games, leads the Mid-Empire League in sacks with 10. Talia’s a four-star recruit at a position where the Ducks graduate five players, scheduled to graduate in December with three years to play two.
Carving out a future: Tua Talia captioned this Twitter selfie, “Getting to 290 the right way.” The Duck verbal commit makes a lifestyle out of playing football with the same directedness.
Diablo coach Mike Darr praises his prized lineman’s motor and effort. He told Matt Schwab of the Contra Costa Times, “He loves the weight room. He loves the work.”
Talia played linebacker in high school but kept growing. His brother Eric Finefeuiaki is a safety at West Texas A&M. DVJC is known for top-quality defensive linemen, having sent Kyle Kragen to Cal and Morgan Breslin to USC in recent years. Darr says Tua is the best of all of them, proving it on the field in his sophomore year. The team is just 3-4, but his strong, mobile, aggressive defensive tackle leads a defense that yields a stingy 203.7 yards and 20.3 points per game.
The Vikings move Talia around in the defensive formation, a testament to his versatility and agility. On plays in his highlight tape he will stand up at outside linebacker, put a hand down at defensive end or stack up the middle lined up inside. He can play off the ball or provide muscle in short yardage. He’s physical, disciplined and smart, a great fit for the Oregon style of defense with a tremendous will to compete and succeed. On Twitter he described his routine: “Eat, School, Eat, Study, Football, Eat, Stretch, Facetime, Pray, Sleep.” Every bit of it is working. Next year, Talia will be making tackles and sacks for the Ducks.
What jumps out is the football intelligence. First play is a speed rush from the strong side. He shows good agility and mobility getting off a block and finding the quarterback who’s stepping up in the pocket with the idea to run but Talia wraps him up for a sack. He makes a lot of plays reacting to the flow of the play, adjusting to the scrum and sifting through it. Has the strength and body control to maintain leverage and rushes with his eyes up. A smart football player who finds the football and plays hungry.
From defensive tackle on the inside zone read, gets immediate penetration, driving off the ball to create a new line of scrimmage three yards deep. Quick, powerful and strong, firing out and shedding the blocker who can’t get to him in time.
Standing up as a hybrid DE/OLB, unblocked as the read defender. Zeroes in on the quarterback at the point of exchange and overwhelms the play. He squares off on him nicely and cuts off the avenue of escape, forcing him down. Good feet, under control, disruptive. Destroys the offenses timing by being more decisive and athletic than the quarterback. Wraps up, efficient, no cheap shot, businesslike. Smart and focused. Heads back to the line of scrimmage for the next play with no posturing or theatrics. Competes with pride, poise and intensity, coupled with good discipline and respect for the game.
Standing up at weakside defensive end. Probably moves inside as a Duck, but the experience of playing wide and mobile is invaluable. Shows the ability to run and hit and pursue, be an athletic defender, vital in the Ducks’ scheme.
Over the guard as a down lineman, Pistol formation by the opponent. Knifes inside the blocker, too quick for his man and crushes another play at the handoff. Has good balance, which allows him to finish plays with authority, be physical in space.
Down lineman at weakside defensive end. The DVJC coaches move him around on the front, a sign of versatility, trust and functional football intelligence. Drives his man into the backfield, toward the flow of the play, collapses it and finds a scrambling quarterback, wrestles him to the ground. Maintains contain. Delivers a blow, a blow and another to the man opposite, physical and competitive. Reads and reacts beautifully, approaching football like a martial artist. Terrific motor and body control–keeps himself in the play.
Near midfield, upright over center in a two-down look two yards off the ball. Has agility and athletic ability that’s rare in a 290-lb. guy, solid and mobile, able to diagnose plays like a linebacker. It’s an inside zone read keep and he spins off a blocker back to the quarterback, drives him into the ground. Love how he finds the ball. Too many big guys flail in traffic, but he makes crunching two-arm tackles with his helmet in the chest. Terrific feet and desire. A playmaker with size, a potential impact defender who inspires teammates. A good technician who studies football, works at his game and fights, always looking for ways to beat the man opposite him and win the individual battle. Applies a variety of techniques to the confrontation. Coachable and intense. Disciplined in his assignments. Great determination.
Offers from Baylor, Washington, Arkansas, Kansas, Hawaii, and Utah State, but he wanted to play for the Ducks, decommitting from the Huskies as soon as he was offered. He’ll thrive here, a perfect fit for the system at a position of need.