But on the gridiron, he captures nationwide attention.
The Dallas Ranch Middle School student will compete with about 70 of the nation’s best youth football players Sunday in the 2013 Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in Houston.
“It feels great,” said Letuligasenoa.
The game coincides with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for high school players, and allows seventh- and eighth-graders to participate in practices, a skills competition and break-out sessions with current and former NFL stars.
As one of only three players from the state of California, Letuligasenoa will play for the seventh-grade West Coast team against players from the East Coast. The event will also feature a game for eighth-graders and a USA versus Canada battle.
Although the experience is meant to be informative and fun, securing a roster spot was a challenge. Only 35 players from the West Coast and 35 from the East Coast are chosen by All American Games, producers of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The sons of former NFL players Ed McCaffrey and Ray Lewis have played in the youth bowl over its three-year history.
“It’s an honor to be chosen,” said Jon Fredrickson, California director of Football University, which helps evaluate players for the games. “Thousands of kids from across the country have submitted their tapes.”
With seven years of playing football under his belt, the young defensive tackle, who competes for the Delta Patriots, burst onto the scene after being invited and then named MVP of an April training camp run by current and former NFL coaches.
“We’ve been lucky,” said Soli Letuligasenoa, Tuli’s father. “I’ve been blessed.”
As a member of the seventh-grade team, Tuli’s Texas experience will allow him to develop his skills and prepare him for a shot at the eighth-grade game next year.
At a recent presentation of his official game Jersey at Trucks Training in Brentwood, Tuli said he hopes the experience readies him for his future on the football field. Although his idol, Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburg Steelers, has inspired him to dream of playing in the NFL, Tuli is taking things one step at a time – grateful for the upcoming opportunity to hone his skills on a national stage.
“I just want to thank the man upstairs and my family,” he said.
All three games will be webcast live on www.
footballuniversity.org and www.allamericangames.tv. beginning Sunday at 9 a.m. For more information, visit www.footballuniversity.org.