Countdown to Kickoff: No. 42 Mika Tafua
With 42 days left until kickoff, it’s time to talk about a two-time All-Pac-12 defensive end, Mika Tafua. The 6-foot-3 and 250 pounder is the leader of the defensive line and a terror for opponents.
Over his career Tafua has started 24 out of a possible 30 games, registered 83 tackles and eight sacks. Along with fellow starter Maxs Tupai, they lead a talented and deep group at the defensive end position, one in which can go two to three deep in a rotation. However, the coaching staff will want Tafua on the field as much as possible.
He’s a crucial cog to the success of the 2021 Utes defense.
Tafua isn’t flashy like former Ute and NFLer Nate Orchard, but he’s a steady and calming influence that gets the job done against both the running and passing game. With the recent influx of talent at the defensive end position, including Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton, Tafua should only get better as the competition behind him heats up.
With the players maintaining their class year from the 2020 season, Tafua is very likely one of the Utes that won’t need to use that extra year of eligibility. He should be viewed as an early-entry candidate for the 2022 NFL Draft, as there might not be much more for him to gain from an additional year.
Alex remembers Tafua's recruitment
Tafua committed to BYU over a year before he signed. It was a long commit, that was deemed by many as less than solid. He had nine offers, consisting of schools from the Pac-12, Big 10, SEC, and BYU. Ultimately, he stuck with the Cougars, but when the coaching change hit during his mission, his wavering commitment was all but done. After not strongly considering Utah, pre-mission, Tafua got home and immediately reached out to the Utah staff. It was a no-brainer for both sides, and the staff knew they were unexpectedly getting a talent, but they had no idea the immense potential that he would go on to show, immediately.