HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three weeks into the abbreviated eight-game Mountain West schedule and the Rainbow Warriors are still trying to find their identity on both sides of the ball.
On the defensive side of the ball, their ‘War dog’ D is being anchored by sophomore linebacker Darius Muasau, who has led the team in tackles in all of their games this season — a total of 25 solo tackles, 12 assists and a sack.
The Mililani graduate caught new head coach Todd Graham’s eye quickly, earning high praise from his new coach, while also being challenged by him to strive for more.
“He’s one of the guys that we designed what we were doing behind, I just thought he was a special player.” Coach Todd Graham told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “If he’s not the best football player we have on defense, he’s right there at the top and playing well, I always try to challenge him each day, i’ll always walk up to him and say, so you’re the best player here, there’s some linebacker at Notre Dame that’s trying to be All-American so you 'ought to be competing with him.”
How much potential does the young linebacker have? According to coach Graham, Muasau has the potential to garner national recognition.
“I think Darius has potential to be an All-Conference, first team All-Conference guy, to be an All-American guy,” Coach Graham said. “More importantly be a guy that can lead us to play defense the way I want to play it.”
For Muasau, the sophomore does not shy away from the added pressure created from his coaches.
“I do love the challenge, you know I take on the challenges like that and I’m just trying to prove myself everyday,” Muasau said. “It’s what I do everyday and just try to be the best player.”
Hawaii was the only Division I offer he got coming out of high school, the former Trojan using it to push him through his journey at UH, while getting help from his teammates and coaches.
“We play as one unit, one team, and also with our amazing coaching staff that we have in coach Graham, just trusting in him and our linebackers coach, coach Yoro, they all help me get to where I am today.” Muasau said. “Especially with the help of coach York, coach York was a great coach, he really just paved the path for me, I’m just having fun with it and I’m really excited to be here.”
Even though the defender is young, coach Graham hopes to make Muasau a defining feature of his UH defense.
“He comes to practice everyday and he busts his butt, I challenged him to have a mental maturity, he’s very quiet and that’s okay, but you have to kind of get out of that shell a little bit and let loose some passion.” Coach Graham said. “He does that, he’s taken that challenge and done that, so he’s a guy that I think we can build this defense around for years to come.”
Muasau and the ‘War dog’ defense head to the mainland this Saturday to take on San Diego State — kick off set for 11:00 a.m. Hawaii time on Spectrum pay-per-view.