Two players who grew up in American Samoa and two players who began their college careers as extras have been named captains of the University of Hawaii football team.
In player voting, defensive tackle Blessman Ta’ala, linebacker Penei Pavihi, running back Dedrick Parson and center Eliki Tanuvasa were selected for the leadership roles.
Head coach Timmy Chang said the peer endorsement is “what makes him special. (They are) rewarded (for) their work and what they have shown their January teammates to this point. … It’s quite special. It’s a great honour, really, to be the leader of the team. These four guys are our hats off to, and we go as they go.
Ta’ala, a 2017 graduate of Faga’itua High in American Samoa, is the anchor of the Rainbow Warriors defensive line.
“It means a lot because it comes from my teammates,” Ta’ala said. “They voted for us. It is a great achievement for our peers to see us in a leadership role.
Excluding the redshirts in 2019, Pavihi has played in 47 of a possible 47 matches since graduating from Tafuna High in American Samoa in 2017.
After joining Howard as a non-scholarship player, Parson led the Bison in rushing in 2019 and 2020. He transferred to UH in July 2021 and rose from third string to No. 1 running back.
“I’m going to do everything I can every day to give my best and do what I can to help this team,” Parson said. “It’s an honor (to be chosen as captain). Man, I’m blessed.
Tanuvasa, a Saint Louis School graduate, was at Eastern Illinois for one season before transferring to UH in 2019 for family reasons. He appeared in three games in 2019, nine on special teams in 2020 and started six games at guard last year. It went public at the end of the 2021 regular season.
“It’s something I didn’t expect,” Tanuvasa said after being named captain. “If you asked me, when I was a 7-year-old kid watching (former UH quarterback) Colt Brennan in the stadium, that one day I’d be captain of the same football team, I’d say to you, ‘You ‘are crazy.’ If you said the same thing to me in high school, or maybe a year ago, I’d say ‘you’re crazy.’ It’s probably the greatest honor I’ve ever had. It’s quite emotional.
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