HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Seventy-four receptions, 1,053 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Those are Tamatoa Falatea’s receiving numbers during his senior year at Punahou.
But for Falatea, one number stood out and it couldn’t be found in any box score. The number “zero” was something Falatea -- regardless of how many touchdowns he scored -- could not shake as his high school football career came to an end.
“Going into my senior year of high school, I had zero offers and at the end of the season, I still had zero offers,” Falatea said this morning at Elks Lodge during National Letter of Intent Signing Day.
Despite averaging 14.2 yards per reception as a senior, Falatea couldn’t catch a break. But slowly but surely as his highlight tape began to make its rounds on the mainland, his recruiting picked up, resulting an invite to the 2019 Polynesian Bowl.
“It was kind of slow but I started to talk to schools and it kind of picked up eventually. I took a visit to Princeton before the Polynesian Bowl, they were kind of waiting for a spot to open up,” he said. “Once that spot opened up they gave me a call and it was a done deal after that.”
Falatea didn’t hesitate once Princeton offered him an opportunity to continue his football career on the collegiate stage. But it wasn’t necessarily football that drew Falatea to Princeton; it was the opportunity to set himself up for life.
“It’s a prestigious school. Football and sports only lasts you so long,” he said. “And eventually, all you’re left with is your degree. And a degree at Princeton? Doesn’t get much better than that. It was a blessing. My family and (I) just cried together, thanked the lord, my savior Jesus Christ and it’s just been an honor and a blessing to our family.”