Q&A: Saint Louis All-State DL Faatui Tuitele

Saint Louis defensive lineman Faatui Tuitele, shown in a 2017 sacking Kamehameha quarterback Thomas Yam, leads a top-heavy class of 2019 from Hawaii. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Faatui Tuitele is spending the morning after Christmas in a classroom.

Driver’s Education isn’t mandatory at Saint Louis, but it’s the quickest, safest and most efficient way, he says, to get a driver’s license.

“Freedom. You don’t have to rely on your parents to pick you up and drop you off. You can just take yourself,” he said. “I’ve ridden The Bus probably 40 or 50 times in my whole life. I’m taking the class, then it’s behind the wheel, and sometimes I practice with my parents.”

Better known as Tui to teammates and coaches, the 6-foot-3, 270-pound junior is the state’s top college prospect as a versatile defensive lineman. He has 21 scholarship offers and was voted first team on the Star-Advertiser Football All-State team this season. He chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Tuesday.

Faatui Tuitele
Saint Louis football
Q&A • Favorites

Athlete: Aaron Donald
> He’s the best 3 Tech I have seen! Thank you!

> He’s only 6 feet 2, such an undersized lineman compared to those 6-4, 6-5 O-linemen. The way he uses his leverage and a wide variety of moves. He can use anything, honestly. The way he beats bigger, stronger guys with his speed and finesse is outstanding. I try to mix up my moves like he does. I look up to him because he plays the same position, 3-tech. The way we line up is mostly up because we play a lot of Bear. The way he sets up his moves, he has power on one play and speed on the other. It’s hard for them to bend down low when they’re 6-6 or 6-5.

Is there any correlation between line play and martial arts?
> I don’t really know much about martial arts. Tamba Hali of the (Kansas City) Chiefs does judo and he says it helps a lot with his balance and hand-fighting.

Team: New England Patriots
> They had Vince Wilfork. A lot of my family are Steeler fans. My parents are Steeler fans. A lot of my cousins are Steeler fans. They were all over my face when we were losing, but when we beat them, they were sick and didn’t want to talk to me. When I was growing up, I played football with my friends, but I didn’t pay that much attention to the NFL. But when I played for the Razorbacks, I played a lot of tight end (sixth grade) and D-lineman, so I started watching a lot of NFL, and I saw Rob Gronkowski. That’s why I picked 87. He’s unstoppable at tight end, great balance on a 6-6 frame. That’s why I started loving the Patriots. Now, when they ask who’s my team, they all say I’m a bandwagon fan because we won the Super Bowl.

Food (at home): Pisupo and Spaghetti
> Pisupo is corned beef. I don’t know what brand that’s called. Let me look. Pacific brand. Red and yellow can with the big cow.

So you’re saying the vegetarian diet isn’t coming for awhile.
> No.

Who makes your pisupo?
> My mom makes it. It’s the best to me. I could eat that every day, honestly.

Food (eating out): Korean Fried Chicken… ALLLLLLLL RICE (Zippy’s).

Hobby outside of sports: Playing ping pong and video games with the boys.

Movie: When the Game Stands Tall
> That’s the one about the De La Salle team, the 151- or 155-game win streak. I remember when they had Maurice Jones-Drew.

TV show: The Flash
> I’d rather have The Flash in the TV show. The one in the movie, they didn’t do anything really at all. He was just fast in the movie. In the show he does a lot of things, running a circle where he can generate a lightning bolt that he can throw. I watched all four seasons, and now it’s a break so I’m bummed. Usually me and my boys do our homework and watch the show on Tuesdays

Video game: Madden, Call of Duty, NBA 2K
> Madden is same every year, all they’re doing is updating the rosters with draft picks and trades. All the injured players in real life, they’re not able to play in the game until they’re taken off IR.

Who is the best player from Saint Louis or Hawaii online, and who cheats the most?
> You’re talking to him right now. My friend, (Saint Louis offensive lineman)
Kekoa Bonner, cheats the most. He doesn’t cheat but he plays 24/7, 365 all night long, non-stop. He’s so hard to play because he knows all the tendencies and all the plays. He’s already been through his playbook.

I recall playing Madden Online in 1999 and 2000. People cheating when they lost.
> People losing badly or losing still disconnect and it never happened.

EA Sports never fixed it?
> It still happens.

Music artist: Kapena, Boyz 2 Men, Tupac, NWA

Which is pre-game music?
> Actually, in the locker room when we’re getting ready, I bump Tupac, NWA and Ice Cube, all those old-school rap groups. It gets me hyped up on the bus. On the way to the stadium, it’s more Kapena, Mana‘o Company, Rebel Souljahz.

Teacher (elementary through high school)
> There have been a lot of teachers during my career in school that have impacted my life. I don’t know who to choose. But I thank them all for not giving up on me.

GPA: 4.0
> I actually finished with a 4.21 this quarter.

Would it be easier or tougher if you didn’t play a sport?
> I think my GPA would be higher. I would be able to focus more, have a lot more time to rest.

Class: Lunch! Nah nah I like Math!
> Algebra. I like algebra the best.

Place to relax: Beach or a friends house to relax my mind and enjoy life a little

Motto/scripture: Private School, Public Housing Mentality
> That’s a quote that I came up with since I first entered Saint Louis. I come from Mayor Wright Housing. A lot my uncles came from Mayor Wright Housing. Tony and Vae Tata, Peter Salavea, Chris Fuamatu-Ma‘afala. That’s just a few of them. All the videos that came up on YouTube of when they played, that’s kind of the mentality I want to have, to destroy people on the field. Although I go to a private school, I never forget where I come from. I’m proud to say I’m from Mayor Wright Housing. I think that coming from the struggle has made me who I am today. It taught me a lot of lessons growing up there. Responsibilities. Respect. I don’t take things for granted. I cherish everything I have. I’ll never forget.

What your mom (Loitera) says that you can’t forget:
> My mom always says “go out there and make your stats! Win or lose, we’ll always be proud of you. I love you son.”

What your dad (Justin) says that you can’t forget:
> My dad always says “no matter what you do, play physical, play fast and play hard! But most of all, HAVE FUN! I love you boy.”

What your coaches say that you can’t forget:
> You’re not only playing for yourself. You’re playing for your brothers next to you and CRUSADER NATION!! Go out there and kick some a**!

How does your sport affect your daily life during the season and offseason?
> During the season, my life would consist of strictly school and football. Wake up, go school, pau school, practice, training and rehab. It was tiring but the sacrifice was worth it. Off season, I do rehab every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after school for my elbow. The other days I just condition and run.

> I do my rehab with Pat Ariki of Sports Medicine Hawaii.

What middle and elementary schools did you attend?
> I went to Ka’iulani Elementary School then Central Middle School. I went to Central until seventh grade then transferred to Saint Louis in eighth grade.

What youth teams did you play for? What club do you play for and what are the daily commitments like year-round?
> I played for Central Razorbacks in sixth and seventh grade. It was year-round so it kept me in shape and kept me busy.

What do you like to do — or what’s something else you’re good at — that would surprise most people?
> In the future, I want to become a prosecutor or a defense attorney.

There’s a distinct difference between those two jobs, but you don’t mind either?
> No.

So the question is, what if you’re a great defense attorney, and you suspect your client is guilty. But there’s not enough proof?
> That’s a hard one. First of all, you’re defending an alleged criminal. That would be a hard decision. Even if you suspect him of being guilty, it’s either you win the case and let this guy go even though deep down in your gut you believe he might be guilty. You get paid, but there’s not enough evidence to find him guilty. You don’t want to be known for losing cases. A lot of things weigh in. In the end, I’d like to become a judge.

So Eliki Tanuvasa, your teammate, also wants to become an attorney and judge.
> Maybe we will do a case against each other, or he’ll be a judge.

What is your ultimate dream/bucket list? Where would you like to travel, what life would you like to have as an athlete? And away from sports?
> I would definitely want to go to Samoa and American Samoa to see my roots. Get to know my culture more and see where I come from. As an athlete, I don’t want much in my life. I don’t ask for much. I just want a simple life. I want to give back to my family for they have sacrificed a lot for me.

> Samoa is part of a British colony, Western Samoa — my mom is from Savaii. I have never gone there. My dad’s from American Samoa, Leone.

What is the history and background of your name?
> My name, Faatuiolemotu, is originated from the village of Leone in America Samoa. I am named after the Chief or Ali’i of the western region of America Samoa.

Any shout-outs or additional thoughts are welcome. Mahalo!
> First of all, I just want to thank Our Heavenly Father Above for all He has done for my family and I! Thank you to my family and friends for all their love and support! Last but not least, thank you to my coaches for teaching me this game of football.


  1. zbd May 22, 2018 12:20 am

    I was in the Peace Corps in Samoa. Great place to visit. I want Tui to go to the Ohio State University. He’d be the first player from Hawaii to go there. Play for Urban Meyer.

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