Travis Tuiloma is a 6-foot-3-inch, 285-pound defensive tackle prospect from Topeka, Kansas. He plays both defensive and offensive tackle for his Washburn Rural High School team. Tuiloma more than holds his own on the offensive line, but what he really takes pride in is clogging up the middle.
“I get triple-teamed most of the time," said Tuiloma. “I get doubled sometimes, but about 90 percent of the time it’s either a double-team or a triple-team that I have to beat .”
While Tuiloma is thankful for the attention opposing offenses lend him, it does get old. What gets even older for Tuiloma is when teams completely abandon their normal game plan due to his presence in the middle.
All last season Tuiloma would watch film of the team he’d play the coming week, and when Friday rolled around he and his teammates wouldn’t recognize the team’s offensive tendencies.
“All the time I’d sit and watch team’s film and see that they run it up the middle a lot," explained Tuiloma. “Then when we play them it’s all about sweeps. That’s all they do, sweeps. Toss it out and go wide, stay away from the middle. It’s sort of frustrating because I like to hit. I like to throw guys back. It’s not fun when they run away from you all the time.”
Indeed, Tuiloma has become a victim of his own success while playing for Washburn Rural High School at the 6A level in Kansas. At a glance, Tuiloma has every requisite stat involved in becoming the dominating defensive tackle that he is.
Tuiloma sports a 500-pound squat, and 340-pound bench, which goes along well with his 6-foot-3-inch, 285-pound frame. Right now Tuiloma is working hard to improve his strength and speed.
“No one pushes me around that goes up against me," said Tuiloma. “I work out hard in the weight room to make sure that doesn’t happen. If they use one guy, then he has no chance and I can usually push around double-teams too. Triple-teams are tough, but I can take them too.”
It’s obviously these traits among others that led Cougar coaches, namely Cougar defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi, to move quickly on Tuiloma. BYU offered him very early in the process, and Tuiloma quickly snatched up the offer without much thought.
“It was a very easy decision for me to commit to BYU," explained Tuiloma. “My parents really wanted me too and I did as well, so I made up my mind and I haven’t regretted it one bit.”
Tuiloma still gets letters from would-be suitors, including top Big 10 and Big 12 suitors, but doesn’t respond to any of them.
“I just throw them away,” he said. “I know where I’m going, so why read them?"
Tuiloma is going to BYU. He’s going there due to their great football tradition and education opportunities, but most of all, for the environment.
What is remarkable is that Tuiloma still has yet to set foot on BYU’s campus. He’s never seen the facilities, toured the campus or met most of the coaches face-to-face. Regardless, Tuiloma is certain that BYU is the place for him.
“There’s no doubt in my mind," confirmed Tuiloma. “They’re my church’s school, they’re the school that will respect my plans to serve a mission, and I love Coach Kaufusi and all the other coaches. Whenever I talk to any of them I know that they care about me and want me to achieve my goals.”
Tuiloma will only be 17 when he graduates, so the plan right now is to play a year before leaving for a mission. Until then the only chance Tuiloma will likely have to actually see the school he committed to up close will be on his official trip.
“I can’t wait for that, I really can’t," expressed Tuiloma. “I really look forward to meeting all the coaches, meeting my future teammates and seeing BYU up close. I really don’t know much about anything there yet. I’ve heard all about it, but to see BYU up close, that’s going to be a great experience.”
Tuiloma feels that he already knows everything necessary, which led him to commit so early.
“I prayed about it, talked it over with my family and everyone felt very strongly that I needed to commit to BYU," explained Tuiloma, who may have received some top offers had he held out. “When you know, you just know. I know it as strongly now as I did when I committed, maybe even more. I know that BYU is the place I need to be and I’m very grateful to their coaching staff to give me a scholarship offer.”