Fenumiai transitions to tight end at Western Oregon

October 3, 2014

phillip fenumiai footballPhillip Fenumiai of Juneau came to Western Oregon University as a quarterback, but when his team needed a tight end he was the first one to step up.

Sitting behind a senior, it was his only way to get on the field. It showed initiative and insight to embrace the challenge of playing a new position, but Fenumiai is a gamer. He isn’t scared.

“It was a big transition,” he told me. “The blocking is crucial for our tight ends because we use our tight ends a lot to block and then running routes as well. It’s a brand new thing coming from quarterback last year to blocking more. This is Week 5 and I feel more confident blocking since it all started. I just took time, a lot of time, and I kept telling myself that it was going to take a while. I just have to buckle down and grind it out, I guess.”

Fenumiai, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, has transitioned nicely into his new role for Western Oregon [2-2], having caught a pass in each of the four games and hauling in his first career touchdown in a 38-14 victory over Simon Fraser.

“It was pretty nice getting that out of the way,” he said with a laugh.

His touchdown came in the second quarter, a 4-yard reception off a play-action fake.

“The quarterback booted to the right and came across the field, and the wide receivers did a good job sucking in the defense and allowing them to come up,” he said. “I just came over the top and quarterback threw a pretty ball. I didn’t have to do anything at all. It was just there in my hands. I couldn’t be happier.

“I had it visualized in my mind that I was going to celebrate with my teammates and my coaches said I just ran around like I didn’t think I was actually in the end zone. I didn’t know what to do. I just handed the ball to the ref and gave my teammates a high five and went right back to the sideline. I didn’t really know what happened, Later I was like, wow, that was my first college touchdown. I didn’t really celebrate it though. It was awesome. It was a great feeling.”

Fenumiai is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds; good size for a quarterback, but on the smaller size for a college tight end.

Still, he manages to make it work with five catches for 44 yards.

“Physically I feel like I’m OK,” he said. “It’s just all about technique when it comes to blocking, no matter how big the guy is. You gotta embrace the contact from bigger guys.

“At the end of the game your body is going to get tired, so you have to rely on how you prepared that whole week. You have to be ready for fundamentals break down as you get tired, so you have to go back to what you learned that week, previous weeks, even fall camp and stuff like that. Everything will slow down and from there it will get easier for you.”