Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: D.J. Tialavea, TE, Utah State
How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
In High School I played Football, basketball, and baseball. My dream was to play baseball in college until Coach Andersen convinced me to come to Utah State. I wasn’t heavily recruited in football. I was mainly focused on basketball and baseball.
Where did you choose and why
I choose to play at Utah State University because of Coach Andersen. He explained to me that I had more of a future in football then I did in baseball. Attending USU also gave me the chance to stay close to home where I could be near my family and help them out.
What were your goals for your senior year?
My goals were to become a dependent team leader. I wanted to have a breakout season and make sure I was one of the best TE in the country.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
I had the chance to meet with almost every team at the combine where I spoke to scouts, Tight End coaches, and also offensive coordinators. All have told me they like that I am big and very physical. They also like that I have experience playing multiple positions like Fullback, H-Back, and Left Tackle. I can help contribute to teams by being a versatile player that can play multiple positions.
At your position, what separates you from the others?
I think the biggest thing that separates me is my physicality and my willingness to get in the trenches and block. I also have a high Football IQ and I can play multiple positions. I am not the fastest TE out there but I do have solid hands and can be dependable.
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
I first look at the defensive line and Stud Linebackers. I look to see who is physical and who is “soft”. When I find out which guys don’t like to be physical I attack them during the game.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
The toughest player I have faced would be Kyler Fakrell who is an Outside Linebacker for us here at Utah State. I had to play against him every day in practice and the kid is a beast.
What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle is definitely the last 6 months of my life. Mid October I was informed that my foot was broken and if I had any intentions on playing in the NFL I would have to get season ending surgery. Just like that my senior season was over and my football career was very questionable. Apart of me was torn away from me and I went into a state depression. 3 weeks after my surgery I got a call from my sister. She had told me that my father had died. In the matter of 20 days, two of the biggest things in my life were taken away from me. Since the passing of my father I have tried to rehab and come back from my injury, I am still pursuing my masters degree, I was busy traveling for the combine and training for proday and while all these hectic things were happening my family was home without me. I have my mother and two sisters who are trying to deal with the loss and I know I need to be there for them and become the man of our house. All this has me determined more than ever to be successful and make my family proud and to pay my respects to my father by becoming a great man like he taught me to be.
What system fits your style of play the best?
The system that fits me would have to be any team who loves to play by being physical and running downhill. So I love power schemes but I also can excel in zone schemes as well.
What is your biggest strength?
My biggest strength is my willingness to work and my work ethic. I never take plays off and I bring it 100% every play
What is your biggest weakness?
The area I need to improve on is speed and quickness in and out of my routes.
If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say?
I am 6’4” 265lbs and run a 4.9. I am not the biggest, I’m not the strongest, and I am definitely not the fastest. But I guarantee I am the hardest working and will be able to lead and encourage others to work hard. I am a willing learner and a very fast learner. I have never had any problems or suspensions on or off the field so I can and will take care of my business. I am low maintenance who gets the job done. I’m not pursuing the NFL for money or for fame but for success. I work hard and push myself each and every day so that I can grow and become a man but the most important thing to me is that I make my family proud. My drive, motivation, and determination streams from my family who I need and will make happy.
Growing up, who was your role model?
Growing up I never realized who my role model was but not that I am older I definitely can say that my father was and will always be my biggest role model.
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
My whole family is from Southern California so my favorite team was the chargers and of course since I am Samoan and from Oceanside California my favorite player was Junior Seau. He is also from Oceanside and he is Samoan. He played with great effort and high intensity and I loved that.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
The first person I would love to have dinner with would be Jesus Christ. I think it would be an amazing opportunity to meet and hear his teachings. I would also love to meet and talk with Dick and Rick Hoyt, who are a true inspiration to me and Dick shows his love for his family by doing what he does for Rick so it would be awesome to meet them. Last and certainly not least, my father. What a special moment it would be if I could only have another chance to sit down with him and tell him I love him.
With your first paycheck what would you buy?
With my first paycheck I am going to pay off my sisters car.