Meet Football Newcomer Sam Tautolo
AMES, Iowa – For new Iowa State football center Sam Tautolo, athletics are all in the family. The 6-3, 305-pound junior arrived on campus Wednesday and is getting ready to start the spring semester, which begins Monday. Tautolo’s father, former NFL lineman John Tautolo played at UCLA before a professional career.
The Samoan family tree of the Tautolos includes current Chicago Bear defensive lineman Matt Toeaina (6-2, 308) and versatile Seattle Mariner Matt Tuiasosopo (6-2, 225). Sam’s cousin Conan Amituanai (6-4, 335) was an offensive lineman at the University of Arizona from 2006-2010. His sister Emma played basketball at UCLA. Sister Hannah spent four years on the volleyball team at Regis (2005-09).
While Sam didn’t play football until his freshman year at Valley View High School, his family stature stood out immediately as he grew up in Long Beach, Calif.
“The coach bumped me up to the junior varsity right away,” Tautolo said. “Then they moved me to center. Center is a demanding position and it takes some adjustment. The first time I snapped the ball it was over the quarterback’s head.”
Tautolo quickly grew to love the position and earned first-team all-conference honors as a senior after getting second-team all-conference as a junior. He also played in the Inland Empire All-Star Game. Tautolo also lettered in wrestling and track and field. But anchoring the offensive line at center is still his first love.
“It is the most rewarding position,” Tautolo said. “It requires strong communications skills. You are the one who is identifying the defensive front and pointing out the blisters. The center makes double team adjustments and sets up blocking schemes.”
Tautolo went to play for head coach Mark McElroy at Saddleback Junior College in Mission Viejo, Calif., about an hour from his home. As a freshman, he earned second-team all-conference honors on a 9-2 Gaucho squad under head coach Mark McElroy. His sophomore team went 8-3.
“When I got to junior college, everything seemed like it was going 100 miles an hour,” Tautolo said. “It didn’t take long for me to adjust. I liked how coach McElroy made us feel like we were all one big family. When I visited Iowa State I got the same kind of feeling talking with (ISU secondary coach) Bob Elliott and (ISU head coach) Paul Rhoads.”
Family is important to Tautolo.
“We still honor “faasamoa” or the Samoan way of life by maintain some parts of the tradition,” Tautolo said.
For his part, John Tautolo, who played for UCLA under Terry Donahue when current Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel was a walk-on quarterback, says his son is ready for major college football.
“Sam has worked hard for this opportunity,” John Tautolo said.
Now Sam Tautolo is ready to reap the rewards of that effort.