LINCOLN — Lincoln Southeast defensive lineman Teivis Tuioti is no stranger to learning new systems and new places. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound junior started his third high school football season at his third school earlier this week.
“I’ve been adjusting almost my whole life,” said Tuioti, the son of Nebraska defensive line coach Tony Tuioti. “Coming here, I think, is the best thing that has happened. We have a great team and awesome coaches, and that is why I am excited about the season.”
The life of a coach’s son is often full of adjustments. Teivis grew up in Hawaii then moved to northern Ohio; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and then Northern California, where his father was on the staff at Cal. The Tuioti family landed in Lincoln earlier this year.
Teivis and his brothers, Teilor, a sophomore, and Teitum, a freshman, are finding their place at their new school and city.
“I think that all three of the Tuiotis have adjusted very well to being in a new school,” Southeast coach Ryan Gottula said. “They all worked very hard in our summer strength and conditioning program. They are very intelligent players and have picked up our systems (both offense and defense) quickly. They also are very high-character kids. They work hard in the classroom and are respectful to everyone. They have been a pleasure to work with.”
With all of the moves he has made, Teivis has played with and against different levels of prospects. His new team has players who are future Division I players and emerging prospects. Senior Isaac Gifford holds scholarship offers from Wyoming, Oregon State and Army. Senior offensive lineman Xavier Trevino is committed to walking on at Nebraska, and senior safety Isaac Appleget is committed to South Dakota State.
Teivis is a Division I prospect himself. Nevada, Idaho State and Army have offered. When it comes to teaching defensive line technique and working through the recruitment process, he has an ace in the hole, of course.
“I just tell him just be himself and the most important thing is be a great teammate,” said Tony of the advice he gives to his kids. “They have grown up in a team environment their whole life, and they know in order to be successful it starts with ‘we’ more so than ‘me,’ and they get that.”
Teivis has played tight end most of his life, and he was a defensive end at California High in San Ramon, California, last year. Now, with natural growth, he is transitioning to defensive tackle.
Again, his father is in a unique position to offer some tips — if asked.
“I usually try to do everything on my own, but if a question pops, and I think he would be able to help me out, I usually ask him,” Teivis said of his dad. “Mainly (the questions are) about my recruiting, but now that I have moved to defensive line, I use him as another resource about defensive line technique, because I’m new to it.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt being from a football family.
“Especially in the offseason, I try to help them out,” his father said. “We spent some time just kind of working out. Especially with Teivis, just trying to help him out with keys and reads and fundamentals and technique — just defensive line play.”
Tony makes it a point not to be the “parent-coach” from the stands or at home. He said it’s important for his kids to get their coaching from their coaches.
“Most of the time, I tell them the way your coaches teach you and that technique (is the way) you have to play.”
Tony has strong recruiting ties around the country, specifically in the West. He has only been in Nebraska for a short time, but it hasn’t taken long to pick up on some high school football culture.
“They are so passionate about it here and the game of football,” Tony said. “There is a lot of good players that have come here and had success.”
He noted that out-of-state schools are also noticing the quality of players the state produces.
Keeping kids at home is good for the Huskers, but inevitably some good players will leave the state.
“The game is so much different where it used to be more regional,” he said. “Kids are developing their skills here and dominating the high school level then going to camps and starting to compete, and it spreads their own brand. If they go out and succeed, they are representing Nebraska wherever they are at.”
His best advice?
“I would say to all the young people just continue to work hard and represent the state the best way you can … that just expands the brand of high school football in the state of Nebraska.”