Tu’ua commits to TCU for football, TCU commits to Tu’ua for life
Funny enough, though, it was seldom brought up.
Tu’ua spent more time talking with longtime TCU coach Gary Patterson about life off the field rather than his role on it, which spoke volumes to the family-first pitch the Horned Frogs made to Tu’ua.
“Everyone knows TCU is one of the biggest college football schools out there but not very many people get to actually see what kind of person Gary Patterson is,” Tu’ua told me. “When I was there, obviously, we talked about football, that’s part of the reason I’m there. But he’s also got this slogan: It’s not about 4 years, it’s about 40.”
That grabbed him like an arm tackle.
Tu’ua, of Dimond High fame, subsequently committed to TCU out LA Harbor College in Los Angeles, California, where the star defensive tackle registered 24 tackles, four for loss, in seven games.
The 6-foot-2, 315-pounder will officially become a Horned Frog on National Signing Day on Feb. 1. The idea of him playing in the mighty Big 12 is still sinking in.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s actually happen,” he said.
That’s because for most of his life, dreams were the only thing that gave him hope.
On his own since age 14 when his parents were deported to Samoa, Tu’ua stayed on the right path thanks to football and his Mormon faith. His journey to major college football is different than most.
After high school, Tu’ua didn’t go to college. He went to the ghetto.
As part of his two-year LDS mission, Tu’ua went to work in the inner cities of Michigan such as Detroit, Lansing and Flint.
“I was there to serve the people,” he said. “I was put in those areas because I’m big and brown, and nobody messes with you. While I was there, it was really sad to go into people’s homes and see the poverty they are living in.”
He realized if he wanted a better life, he needed to go to college.
“It made me realize the key is education,” he said. “An education doesn’t guarantee you to be rich or wealthy, but it guarantees you the opportunity to be successful in life.”
With no money, his only option was through football. He eventually landed at LA Harbor and from there parlayed his play on the field into a scholarship offer from TCU.
“Growing up without having anything, the one thing I’ve always wanted was to have a family and then to be able to provide for them,” Tu’ua said. “Every time I get on that field, I think ‘this is my out, this is the way I’m going to be able to provide for my family and get my children things I didn’t have and also help my parents back home.’”