After a career at UW of harassing quarterbacks and amassing accolades, Vita Vea became the fifth Husky in the past four years to be drafted in the first round. Don't know much about the newest Buc? You won't for long.
1. Vea, you might have heard, played running back Milpitas High School in the Bay Area. As a senior, he gained 578 yards on 47 carries (12.3 yards per carry) and scored 11 touchdowns.
Did you know he also played a little quarterback?
As a freshman on varsity, Vea was roughly 6-feet-4 and 270 pounds and a sometimes-Wildcat QB. Whenever he lined up behind center, Vea almost always ran the ball. Except for one time.
One time his coach let him attempt a pass. It did not end well.
“My coach gave me one chance to throw the ball,” he said, “and it was just one of those chances where you’re in your head too much like, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta make this play. I gotta pout all this power into one throw.’ Then I get back there and throw it and the ball goes flying like 50 feet in the air. It’s like, oh my gosh. The receiver was trying to catch it, but he’s looking up. That was my only chance. I ruined it.”
2. Vea, at about 347 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.10 seconds at the NFL Combine, a blazing time any defensive line but especially so for someone his size. Vea, though, expected to run a sub-5-second 40, as he had done in training.
“Not happy. I’m disappointed,” he told The Times shortly after the combine. “My body was really stressed out, but no excuses. I ran what I ran.”
3. Vea is proud of his progress in the classroom at UW. In high school, he did not graduate with the rest of his class; instead, he spent a season away from football while completing several online courses that allowed him to gain admittance into UW.
“I knew I had dug myself into a hole,” he said of his academics, “and someway, somehow I knew I’d find my way out.”
He did, and his academic standing improved greatly at UW. An anthropology major, he had a 3.10 grade-point average during at least one quarter in 2016-17, and making the team’s 3.0 GPA Board — showcased prominently in the lobby of the Huskies’ football offices — was a big goal he achieved.
4. Vea became the first Husky named the Pac-12’s defensive player of the year in 21 years. As a junior last fall, Vea had 44 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, four pass breakups and one blocked kick.
5. Vea, whose parents are from Tonga, revealed on social media earlier this month that his full name is Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea.