Two-sport Tuileta: UH volleyball standout makes his Hawaii football debut

Two-sport Tuileta: UH volleyball standout makes his Hawaii football debut
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It may have officially been the fifth day of fall camps for the Rainbow Warriors, but Tuesday was a day of firsts for the University of Hawaii football team.

In addition to the 'Bows donning pads for the first time, the rainy morning in Manoa also saw the Hawaii football debut of dual-sport star Larry "Tui" Tuileta.

Though he joined the 'Bows on the field for the first time today, Tuileta has a long history with the U.H. football program. Back in 2014, he was verbally committed to playing both football and volleyball for Hawaii before deciding opting on signing day to ink with USC instead.

After one season with the Trojans, the Punahou alum decided to transfer back to Hawaii. He suited up for the Rainbow Warrior volleyball team for the first time in 2017, earning second-team All-America honors as a libero for the 'Bows.

This summer, he played on the U.S. National Team at the Pan American Cup. Now, Nick Rolovich is hoping he can bring the same leadership he showed on the teraflex to the gridiron.

"He's got a lot to learn," Rolovich admitted. "But, I think what he'll bring to the locker room, what he brought to the volleyball team as a person, hopefully it enhances our locker room leadership wise."

According to Rolovich, he first struck up conversations about Tuileta with UH men's volleyball coach, Charlie Wade, this past spring. But Tuileta's decision to become a two-sport athlete for Hawaii was made just weeks ago.

"I was actually training in Anaheim for volleyball. When I came back I was in and out of Rolovich's office," said Tuileta. "Before I left to go back to the Pan American Games, he gave me an opportunity to play and I said, 'Why not?' The program is going in a great direction, and to be able to play two sports, how I originally planned it, especially at home, with a great group of guys, is really good."

But Tuileta says he's still got a long way to go before he's back in the form that won him two consecutive Gatorade Hawaii High School Footall Player of the Year honors in 2012 and 2013 as a QB for the Buffanblu.

He says Tuesday's workout was his first "real" practice since his freshman season at USC in 2014.

For Tuileta, there wasn't much free time this summer to work on football. As recently as this weekend he was representing Team USA on the court in Canada at the Pan American Cup.

The junior returned from the Great White North yesterday. Tuileta says he had to get a physical done before and getting the necessary equipment for his first practice last night.

While the past 24 hours have been a bit hectic for the 'Bows newest addition, he says he feels he's settling-in relatively easily with the help of his teammates.

"It was actually helpful, before I left they gave me a playbook of the installs for the first week," said Tuileta. "I've kind of been in and out of the playbook that they gave me. So, it's not too much of a step back. So, a lot of the terms are pretty universal - the smash concept, and the hitches. But, definitely a lot to catch-up to. But, the guys are on me helping me out for sure."

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