Thursday | December 14, 2017
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College football: Linebacker Matautia credits discipline for successful season

Hawaii football linebacker Solomon Matautia’s quick improvement is a result of a Spam filter.

“All the linebackers called me ‘Spam and Eggs,’” said Matautia, a third-year sophomore from Campbell High. “That was what I liked to eat. That was my go-to at (the campus restaurant). I would get Spam and eggs every day. I usually would have Spam and eggs before meetings. I’d get a fresh plate. Spam, Vienna sausage, Portuguese sausage … that’s a good breakfast right there.”

During the past spring training, Matautia, who is 6 feet 2, weighed 245 pounds.

“Some people felt that was a good weight for me,” Matautia said. “But personally, I thought I couldn’t run as fast. I wasn’t as quick anymore. One of the things (the coaches) asked me to work on was my weight.”

Through intensive workouts and smarter meal choices, Matautia lost 25 pounds the past summer, and now weighs 220. “I stopped eating so much chips and Spam and eggs,” he said. “I eat in moderation now. I still eat those things, but not as often and in smaller amounts.”

This season, Matautia is reliving the fun he used to have playing football. Growing up in ‘Ewa Beach, Matautia and his three older brothers played backyard football. “Everybody would play tackle, but they would two-hand-touch-me because I was the youngest and smallest,” he recalled.

By the time he was able to absorb — and deliver — the big hits, his brothers had aged out of the backyard games. Matautia then developed into one of the state’s top safeties. He had eight interceptions his junior and senior seasons. He made an oral commitment to accept a scholarship from Oregon State before visiting the Corvallis campus, but reconsidered and opted to sign with the Warriors.

“Putting together the pros and cons of all the places I could have gone, I thought staying home with my family was the best choice for me,” Matautia said.

Although Matautia was used as a safety and returner in high school. he believed he was a better fit at linebacker. The UH coaches felt otherwise, and he was assigned to safety at the start of his first Warriors’ training camp in 2015.

“I remember getting yelled at by Coach Abe (Elimimian, the secondary coach),” Matautia said. “He would tell me, ‘you gotta get there’ and ‘you gotta see that.’ I wasn’t fast enough to get there. I knew linebacker was more fitting for me.”

Three days later, he was moved to weak-side linebacker. Matautia redshirted in 2015 and played 13 games, starting four, in 2016.

This season, he is third in tackles (43), and the team leader in interceptions (two) and forced fumbles (two).

Against UNLV this past weekend, he collected 11 tackles, deflected a pass he should have intercepted, and then made his second pick of the season.

“He’s very comfortable in the defense,” coach Nick Rolovich said. “He understands where he fits. He understands his role. He plays hard. I don’t think it’s a surprise why he’s making plays.”

Matautia said: “My redshirt year and last year, I was kind of stuck in high-school mode where I was used to being the main guy on the team, (where) I could do whatever I wanted and I could practice whatever way I wanted. Once I sat down with all the coaches, I saw what I had to do and what I needed to work on. I took last spring and the offseason and I worked on everything I needed to work on, all the weaknesses. I worked on them, and it’s paying off now.”

Matautia also found a new love — turkey bacon. “That’s my go-to now,” he said, smiling.

 

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