ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2001
Hawaii linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa brought down Tulsa quarterback James Kilian in an Oct. 20, 2001, game in Tulsa, Okla.
TinoisamoaPisa Tinoisamoa wants to make choices, not have them made for him. So the Hawaii outside linebacker said he will continue to work as hard to graduate on time as he did to prepare for football over the summer.
a changed man
The linebacker has madeRice happy with 11
academics as important as football
By Dave Reardon
This could be Tinoisamoa's final season with the Warriors. But if he graduates by the end of next summer, Tinoisamoa regains the year of eligibility he lost as a partial qualifier coming out of high school in 1999. The talented 6-foot, 218-pound cousin of San Diego Chargers great Junior Seau could be an NFL Draft possibility next spring if he has a good season. But Tinoisamoa isn't counting on it.
"I'm just trying to keep my options open. If you focus only on one thing, things might not work out and you don't have anything to fall back on," said Tinoisamoa, a sociology major who is considering switching to history. "I kept myself open to other things, like school. What I realized was that maybe I'm smarter than some people think. It feels good."
Tinoisamoa hopes to feel good all season, unlike last year when a painful stress fracture in his right leg kept him out of three games. He still led the team with five sacks and 11 tackles-for-loss and was fourth with 86 tackles. He also gained a lot of admiration from his teammates by coming back from the injury to play in the season finale against Brigham Young -- a game that ended with him in tears of joy for the UH seniors after Hawaii beat BYU 72-45.
"He's a totally different guy from before," senior defensive end La'anui Correa said. "He always wanted to play around, go out and drink, whatever. Now he's totally changed. He doesn't just say stuff. He goes out and executes."
Coach June Jones acknowledges that Tinoisamoa has improved his work ethic and became a team player over the past two years. But he wants his first big-name recruit to continue to hone his skills.
"He's matured a lot. He's taken things more serious and prepared himself the best I've seen since he got here. I hope it equates into his best season," Jones said. "He's still got a long way to go. He's conscientious, and tries to do everything correctly. He's improved and I expect him to be a leader and step up and make big plays to win games."
Jones said talk that Tinoisamoa is ready for the NFL is premature.
"Right now he wouldn't get drafted at all. He has to have a good year and worry about that at the end of the year," Jones said. "We know what he has to do to get his year back and we think we can help him do that. Hopefully he can get all his credits and have another year of eligibility."
College -- as it is supposed to be -- has been a path of learning for Tinoisamoa. That journey could be one or two more years. However long it is, he said he will make the most of it.
"It means more to me because I've got more invested. I think two years ago I didn't really give my all. I was kind of going through the motions. I worked hard last year and then again this summer, so I'm waiting for the payoff," Tinoisamoa said.
"It's good knowing for the first time players look up to me and they listen. Two years ago I couldn't get that and that's something I thought I should have, but I didn't get it. This year I earned it and it's a mutual respect thing.
"It's all a learning process. I thought I could just jump out and be a leader, but it's gradual. Now it's coming around on my senior year. Well, maybe my junior year."
... In 1992, senior tackle Maa Tanuvasa was the foundation of a solid defense that helped the Rainbows to one of their best-ever seasons. UH won its first Western Athletic Conference championship, and finished 11-2, including a 27-17 Holiday Bowl victory over Illinois.
The Rainbows were ranked 20th in the final Associated Press poll.
Tanuvasa was drafted by the Rams in the seventh round in 1993, and went on to win two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.
Today, Tanuvasa is trying to extend his NFL career despite injuries. He is a free-agent invitee with the Atlanta Falcons.
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