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Defensive back with deep Hawaii roots to play for UH

After a lifetime root-root-rooting for the home team, Tyrus Tuiasosopo is set to join the University of Hawaii football team this summer.

“I always dreamed of coming back and playing football for the Hawaii,” said Tuiasosopo, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound cornerback from Issaquah (Wash.) High School.

Tuiasosopo moved to Issaquah eight years ago.

Tuiasosopo has a rich football background. Consider this:

» His step-father, Zach Tuiasosopo, played four years in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

» Zach Tuiasosopo’s older brother, Marcus Tuiasosopo, played eight NFL seasons and now is UCLA’s quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator.

» Tyrus Tuiasosopo’s birth father is Tony Tata, who was Hawaii’s Defensive Player of the Year as a Saint Louis School senior in 1997. Tata then played at the University of Nebraska.

» Jack “Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson, a ground-breaking college quarterback, is one of his uncles.

» One of Tyrus Tuiasosopo’s “inspirations” is his uncle Afatia Thompson, a former UH running back. Thompson is president of Tihati Productions, the state’s largest entertainment company. He also is a Hoku Award-winning singer who once opened for 50 Cent.

Tuiasosopo played wide receiver and cornerback at Issaquah, but is projected to compete at defensive back with the Warriors.

“He has a lot of range, a lot of length,” Afatia Thompson said. “It will be interesting to see his progression and his growth (at defensive back).”

Tuiasosopo said Thompson is “definitely a big part of me coming home.”

Thompson was the starting running back on the 1999 UH team that won nine games after going 0-12 the previous season. Thompson and UH head coach Nick Rolovich were teammates in 2000.

“It’s an interesting parallel,” Thompson said. “When I was recruited to UH, we were on the bottom end, and then I was able to be part of that historic turnaround. I told (Tuiasosopo) he has a chance to be part of the same thing. They’ve had tough times the past few years. But I’m really proud of Rolo and his staff, and the way he’s embracing the culture and teaching that to the kids. … He gets it in terms of what a special place Hawaii is, particularly playing for Hawaii, and what it means to so many people at so many different levels. I think it’s going to be the same kind of turnaround.”

Thompson added: “We’re excited to see family on the field again. We’re excited to tailgate at UH games again.”

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