“The difference between Tui Talia and the others is he’s got that ‘play on Sundays’ size.”
That’s the mantra surrounding this solid junior college recruit. Standing 6’5, Talia weighs 270 lbs. Well, at least he did before the Ducks delved full force into spring training. Like many of his fellow teammates, Talia has been very serious about lifting weights and bulking up for the coming season.
Tui Talia is one of three new junior college transfers. He was the fifth commitment in the 2014 class - nearly a year ago today. Originally, Talia had committed to the University of Washington, but once Oregon expressed interest, it was clear where he wanted to play for the rest of his college career. Other schools that offered Talia recruitment included Baylor, Arkansas, Kansas, Hawaii and Utah State. He was one of Nick Aliotti’s final recruits.
Talia hails from Pleasant Hill, California, where he attended Ygnacio Valley High School. Back then he weighed only 230 lbs. and played middle linebacker. He had 55 recorded tackles (40 unassisted), two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble his senior year.
During that year he accomplished a season-high 12 tackles in a game. After graduation, he decided to play for Diablo Valley Community College, where head coach Mike Darr made the call to shift him to defensive end. And that change created something that no one (except maybe Darr) could have foreseen.
Diablo Valley is known for its top quality defensive linemen. Notable players include Cal’s Kyle Kragen and USC’s Morgan Breslin, one of the nation’s premier pass rushers before he graduated this year. Darr has called Talia the “best of all of them.” Talia began to find his football niche in this position.
game record of nine tackles (three solo) and 13 stops (with a career high of 10 unassisted). leading tackler.
As a freshman he recorded 48 tackles (21 solo), 16 tackles-for-loss and six quarterback sacks. On ESPN.com, Talia was a 4-star JC recruit, No.1 DE on the top JC list. He was also named to Rivals.com’s top 15 JC players in the country.
Coming into the Oregon program after the loss of three primary DL’s, Talia has the potential to get some serious playing time, which could make him a starter at some point. He’s a disruptive force on the line of scrimmage, aggressive, yet disciplined. And discipline is a needed skill on the field. The amount of false starts from last season can attest to that.
He’s also a recruit Coach Helfrich is excited about: “[Talia] keeps growing and growing. Our D-line development got a lot better today.”
In the spring game, Talia took advantage of his playing time. He recorded five tackles (one a tackle-for-loss). If you remember Johnathan Loyd’s introduction to football, you’ll be thrilled to know that Tui Talia was the 270-pound force behind the play.
While Talia might not have been a big-ticket recruit coming out of high school, he’s a massive source of previously untapped potential. It doesn’t matter how a player gets his start whether it be scholarship or JC transfer. All that matters at the end of the day (or in the NFL draft) is what a player does on the field. Talia has a fantastic opportunity with the Ducks to thrive on the defensive line, and I feel he will continue to take advantage of what his hard work and determination has brought to him.
It’s still unclear how much playing time Talia will receive in the coming season, but he’ll be an important member of the defensive line. Maybe one day we’ll be tuning in to root for Tui Talia on Sunday instead of Saturday.
For now, just keep your eye on No. 55.
Top photo from Video