Viliami Moala

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Viliami Moala
Position: Nose tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1993-03-30) March 30, 1993 (age 24)
Place of birth: Sacramento, California
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 315 lb (143 kg)
Career information
High school: Sacramento (CA) Grant Union
College: California
Undrafted: 2014
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
  • USA Today High School All-American (2010)
  • Parade High School All-American (2010)
  • MaxPreps High School All-American (2010)

Viliami Alfred Moala (/ˌvɪliˈɑːmi mˈɑːlə/ VIL-ee-AH-mee moh-AH-lə; born March 30, 1993) is an American football defensive tackle of Tongan descent. He played college football at California. Moala attended Grant Union High School in Del Paso Heights, Sacramento, California, where he was a consensus All-American defensive lineman.

High school career[edit]

"He's a huge kid with thick legs and impossible to move in the middle of a line."

—Greg Biggins of ESPN RISE.[1]

Before high school, Moala did not compete in football. In fact, he was competing in rugby, national sport in his native Tonga. He did, however, attend football games of Grant Union High School, where his older brother Sione was playing. After a game in the 2006 season, Pacers head coach Mike Alberghini spotted Moala in the stands, asking the 300-pounder why he did not play varsity football, only to be stunned to hear that Moala was only 13.[2]

During his freshman year at Grant Union, Moala was not allowed to participate in varsity football, because California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) rules do not allow students under the age of 15 to compete.[3] Moala instead lined-up on the junior varsity, leading the squad to an undefeated record. As a sophomore, in his first year of varsity football, he started at left guard and was a reserve defensive tackle, finishing the year with 55 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, four quarterback sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. In the CIF Open Division state championship against perennial powerhouse Long Beach Poly, Moala helped Grant to a 25–20 upset.[4]

As a junior, Moala tallied 104 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks, and returned a blocked kick for a touchdown.[4] He played nose tackle in Grant Union's 3–5–3 defense that allowed only 68 points in 13 games, including eight shutouts, and combined for a state-record 77 sacks.[5] However, while riding a 26-game winning streak into the CIF Division II semifinal, Grant Union was upset by Rocklin High School, 19–21.[6] Still, Moala was named California's Junior Player of the Year, the first lineman to do so since Manny Fernandez of San Lorenzo in 1962.[5] By the end of his junior year, Moala had offers from most of the Pacific-10 Conference.[7]

In his senior year, Moala was part of a defense that allowed only 68 points and had eight shutouts, registering a new state-record of 83 sacks (of which Moala contributed 16). Moala also had 131 tackles, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception that he returned 25 yards, three blocked punts and a blocked field goal on the season. Grant Union won 13 consecutive games and was ranked among the top teams in nation until being upset by Folsom High School 41–20 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II football championship game.[8] Grant Union had beaten Folsom 49–14 earlier that season, in a national televised (part of the ESPN "Zero Week" series) at Prairie View Stadium.[2]

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Viliami Moala
DT
Sacramento, CA Grant Union 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 325 lb (147 kg) 5.2 Jan 8, 2011 
Scout:5/5 stars   Rivals:4/5 stars   247Sports: N/A    ESPN grade: 81

Regarded as a five-star recruit by Scout.com, Moala is listed as the No. 2 defensive tackle prospect in the class of 2011, behind only Anthony Johnson.[9][10] He and teammate James Sample were selected to play in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.[11][12] With offers from almost every BCS school, including Alabama, Miami (Fl.), Tennessee, and Florida, Moala was considered Sacramento area's most heavily recruited prospect since Kevin Willhite of Cordova in 1981.[13] He took official visits to Arizona State, Washington, Southern California, and finally California–Berkeley. Moala announced his decision to play for the Golden Bears at the Army All-American Bowl,[14] and has been described by recruiters as the "jewel" of California's 2011 recruiting class.[15]

College career[edit]

Moala arrived at California weighing 387 lb (176 kg), but managed to shed almost 70 pounds with a nutrition plan designed specifically for him by Suzanne Nelson, Cal's director of sports performance and nutrition, along with workouts under the supervision of strength and conditioning coach Mike Blasquez.[16] Initially, he was thought to remain in the 350–360 lb (159–163 kg) range, but eventually shed more weight on request of head coach Jeff Tedford.[17] As a true freshman, Moala saw limited action in all 13 games of the 2011 season, recording four tackles (2 solo) for the year. Getting in all of his action off the bench, he was one of only three true freshman to appear in all Golden Bear games, along with Mustafa Jalil and Richard Rodgers. Moala was also used as one of the backfield blockers in the team's punt game.

In his sophomore season, Moala was a backup to senior Aaron Tipoti and appeared in ten games. In the second game of the season, against Southern Utah, he recorded a tackle for a loss of one yard, and a pass breakup. Moala's best performance came in a game against the then-No.13 USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Lining up opposite of All-Pac-12 center Khaled Holmes, Moala registered three tackles, including one unassisted.

Moala entered the 2014 NFL Draft after his junior season.[18]

Professional career[edit]

Moala went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, but was signed for training camp by the Baltimore Ravens.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Moala was born to Nauela and Lupe Moala, both natives of Tonga who emigrated to the United States in the early 1980s.[17][20] Moala has four brothers and a sister.[17] Among his cousins are former Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Fenuki Tupou, and former USC Trojans defensive lineman Christian Tupou.[2] The latter also attended Grant Union High School in Sacramento.[21]

While a senior in high school, Moala bench-pressed 495 pounds (225 kg).[22] Said Jeff Tedford: "He's already got the Cal bench-press record before he even gets here".[23] By 2013, Moala vows to bench 520 pounds, adding, "That can really bend a bar."[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paskwietz, Garry (June 10, 2010). "California boasts impressive crop of defensive line prospects". ESPN.com. 
  2. ^ a b c "Sacramento's Moala part of mighty defensive line". Seattle Times. August 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Viliami Moala: Audible at the Line". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Mahoney, Jon (September 3, 2010). "Viliami Moala: Audible at the line". ESPN RISE. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Vei Moala CalHiSports Jr POY". Archived from the original on March 15, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Rocklin's win over Grant in prep playoffs no fluke at all". Sacramento Bee. December 5, 2009. 
  7. ^ McKinney, Erik (April 9, 2010). "Quintet of stars leads Grant Union". ESPN.com. 
  8. ^ Paterson, Bill (December 4, 2010). "Loss spells end to Pacers' prolific defensive trio". Sacramento Bee. 
  9. ^ "2011 Defensive tackles". Scout.com. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Grant's Moala considered second best D-line prospect in country". Sacramento Bee. October 27, 2010. 
  11. ^ Davidson, Joe (October 6, 2010). "Two Grant High stars picked for All-American Bowl". Sacramento Bee. 
  12. ^ James Sample & Viliami Moala - 2011 Selection Tour on YouTube
  13. ^ Davidson, Joe (June 1, 2010). "Grant football is drawing recruiters". Sacramento Bee. 
  14. ^ Davidson, Joe (January 9, 2011). "Grant's Moala, Sample give football commitments". Sacramento Bee. 
  15. ^ "Stanford's new coach keeps almost all recruits". Sacramento Bee. February 3, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Cal lineman Moala has lost 67 pounds". San Francisco Chronicle. September 13, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c Crumpacker, John (August 16, 2011). "Nurturing Cal's biggest Bear". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  18. ^ "California DT Viliami Moala to enter NFL draft". Washington Post. January 11, 2014. 
  19. ^ http://www.sacbee.com/2014/05/12/6399429/hometown-report-nfl-draft-picks.html
  20. ^ "Meet the 2011 PARADE All-America Football Team: Viliami Moala". Parade Magazine. February 6, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Add USC to Grant star Moala's football scholarship offer list". Sacramento Bee. March 26, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Sacramento's Moala part of mighty defensive line". The Seattle Times. August 30, 2010. 
  23. ^ Killion, Ann (February 3, 2011). "Cal, Stanford turn in surprisingly highly ranked recruiting classes". Sports Illustrated. 
  24. ^ "Linemen continue to dominate area recruiting". Sacramento Bee. February 9, 2013. 

External links[edit]