Sunday, October 19, 2014

Story of UConn's Fatukasi is one of perseverance

If I were to rank the UConn football stories I have been dying to write this season I'm not sure I could come up with one to top that of redshirt freshman Folorunso "Foley" Fatukasi.

Back in June of 2013 I went to a practice for the Empire Challenge so I could catch up with Fatukasi, who at that time had yet to step foot back in his Far Rockaway, New York home which was deemed uninhabitable after Hurricane Sandy touched down back in 2012.

With Fatukasi seeing more and more playing time in recent weeks, I requested Fatukasi in each of the last few media access periods but he had a class conflict during the normal Tuesday press luncheons. With this week's media gathering on Sunday because the Huskies play at East Carolina on Thursday, I was finally able to catch up with Fatukasi and it was well worth the wait. The story should be up on the Register's site shortly and will be running in tomorrow's paper as well.

You can't help but be struck by Fatukasi's incredibly upbeat attitude despite the trials and tribulations his family has endured over the last two years.

"I've never had a sob story," Fatukasi said. "I've always been happy because I have a loving family but that seeing people you care about going through the same things you are going through, it was really bad. I can only imagine what people in New Orleans went through in Hurricane Katrina. When it is over you don't know what to expect the next day or the day after that, all you can do is to continue to play and have faith because you don't know what is going to come.

"There is a lot of stuff I can appreciate. A lot of high schools don't have many resources to (help players) become as good of players as they want to. I have all the coaches, all the players here so playing at the college level has made me appreciate football a lot. Hopefully some day I will be able to give back to my community, show those kids how to do it because I did it once."

"I am always willing to give a helping hand. I was always a generous person but you don't know what can happen the next day so I am ready to give a helping hand to people in need or just to people in general "

With his family dealing with the logistical side of life post-Sandy, Fatukasi has focused on his school work and his ever-expanding role on the UConn team.

He had two solo tackles in his collegiate debut, a 35-10 loss to Brigham Young and has three tackles in each of the last three games. He has been listed as the co-starter at defensive tackle with senior B.J. McBryde in the last two depth charts and seemingly has a bright future at UConn.

"Foley is a big strong kid," said sophomore defensive lineman Mikal Myers, who is tied for second on the team with four tackles for loss. "He is starting to get it every single day. He is getting better, he is taking coaching and adding it to his game."

There wasn't too much news coming out of today's press conference. As expected, neither offensive tackle Dalton Gifford or safety Ellis Marder will be available this week and Diaco said he hoped to have more info regarding when or if they may return later in the week.

He said he'd like to continue with a similar substitution pattern at tailback meaning true freshmen Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson could see the bulk of the carries. Diaco said he'd like to use Tim Boyle more at quarterback but Boyle will need to be more productive and not turn the ball over as much when he does get his opportunity to play in games.


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