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October 11, 2013The Utah football team has been blessed over the years with many great athletes and leaders. The Utes have continually found guys that represent them well not only on the field, but off it too. Few have stepped up to embrace the role quite like senior left guard Jeremiah Tofaeono.
Offensive Line Coach Dan Finn is one of Tofaeono's biggest advocates. "He's one of the best leaders on our team and is a guy who would do anything for anyone. He's a great guy," Finn said.
Tofaeono has been recognized by his teammates for these qualities, and was named team captain for his senior season. "It's an honor and a blessing," explained Tofaeono. "I never thought I'd be a captain for this team when I got here. I'm speechless about it and am honored to have them trust me and choose me as a leader for this team."
Coach Finn doesn't seem too surprised at the trust the team has instilled in Tofaeono. "He's been a solid, steady presence. He does everything right; does what I ask him to. He's been a great example to the young guys and it's good to have him here," said Finn.
Tofaeono's five year career hasn't always been easy though. Originally recruited to play on the defensive line, Tofaeono was moved to the offensive line where there was a definite learning curve for him. "I've made a lot of improvements. It's a huge leap between my first year to now. I was slow to learn the offense and pick up the pace," he said.
However, Tofaeono is quick to give credit to Utah's coaching staff for getting him to where he is today. "I couldn't have done it without my coaches," he continued.
Tofaeono's significant improvement isn't lost on Finn. "The two years I've had him he's come a long way. He's gotten a lot better. He hasn't had a ton of starts till this year, but he's improved every game and is playing real well," said Finn.
Heading into the meat of their PAC-12 schedule, the Utes will need Tofaeono to continue playing well, especially with 5th ranked Stanford rolling into town this week. Tofaeono for his part doesn't seem too worried about the team's ability to handle its toughest match yet. "Usually teams will buckle and give up, but this team shows no weakness and no signs of giving up," said Tofaeono, "We're a tough team and will fight till the last minute of the game. We will give it all we have."
Asked what the offensive line will need to do in order for the Utes to have success in PAC-12 play, Tofaeono said the key is to communicate. "75% of our success depends on our communication. If we can go out every game and communicate well across the line we'll be just fine," he said.
Hitting the halfway point of his senior season on Saturday, Tofaeono wants just one thing - to win the rest of their games and finish out the season 10-2. "That's the goal for the whole team. Not just me," he said.