The University of Hawaii will now be sharing their second-team All-American libero Larry “Tui” Tuileta with the Rainbow Warrior football squad. A former two-sport standout, Tuileta has now started shaking off the rust with his other form of passing.
While garnering 250 digs for the season and 2.36 a set, Tuileta wasn’t always a single-sport star. In high school, he excelled on the gym floor and the turf for The Punahou School, earning the Cover2 Tommy Kaulukukui Award as Offensive Player of the Year for his 11-0 record as a senior quarterback. When it came time to exchange the shoulder pads for kneepads, Tuileta led the Buffanblu to three consecutive state championships, earning Volleyball Magazine’s Player of the Year award in 2014.
Though a born and raised Hawaiian, he signed with USC out of high school and wore the Trojan uniform for both the football and volleyball teams. He appeared in 26 matches with 12 starts as an outside hitter his freshman season, finishing the season the 1723 kills, 118 digs, 20 blocks, and seven aces. He earned MPSF All-Freshman team honors. However, Tuileta redshirted for Southern California’s football team his first season and did not appear on the roster for his sophomore campaign. He requested a release and transferred home to put on the libero jersey for the Warriors.
Now, with two years of eligibility remaining for both football and volleyball, Tuileta has accepted a scholarship from head football coach Nick Rolovich and participated in practice with the team Tuesday morning.
“It was good. I mean, definitely not volleyball passing for sure, but it was good to get a little bit of reps and kind of get my feel for things and see my old friends again,” said Tuileta after finishing up his first practice with the team—and, despite his high school accolades, Tuileta was certainly aware he was a bit rusty. “Oh, a lot of bit of rust. It’s kind of just getting my rhythm back and kind of getting the feel for the offense and the footwork, but the coaches have been doing a great job at setting a foundation for me with footwork, the basic plays, the core playbook, so it’s really nice.”
Though the fifth training camp practice marked the first workout in full pads for the Rainbow Warriors, Tuileta donned shorts for his first full football practice since his freshman year at USC. With two seasons remaining, he has plenty of time to make as much of an impact on the field as he has on the court for Hawaii.