UW Roster Review, No. 0-99: Huskies Hope Tunuufi Brings No. 90 Back to Life

The Utah newcomer is the next in line to pull on Steve Emtman's  jersey.
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The list goes in this order: Bill Petrie, Reilly Schanno, Jensen Allsop, Andy Carroll, Nick Feigner, Kai Ellis, Donny Mateaki, Chris Robinson, Taniela Tupou, Josiah Bronson and Voi Tunuufi.

Eleven University of Washington football players, a team in itself, each guy having something in common involving their Husky wardrobe.

They all wore jersey No. 90, post-Steve Emtman.

Yet only Tupou pulled on this exalted shirt as long as or longer than the dominant, first-team All-American defensive tackle, Outland Trophy winner and 1992 No. 1 overall NFL draft pick. Tupou wore 90 for five seasons (2011-15} compared to Emtman's four (1988-91). 

Most of these Huskies had 90 for just one or two years, as if the pressure that came with it was too much to bear.

Mateaki and Bronson traded it in for other numbers.

None of them became an all-conference player wearing No. 90, let alone someone with Emtman's national stature.

Tunuufi, however, has a real chance to do this number proud. 

The 6-foot-1, 270-pound defensive tackle from Salt Lake City was one of four true freshmen who took part in UW spring practice this past April, well before his high school senior class graduated, and he seemed to fit right in.

The other newcomers were quarterback Sam Huard, tight end Caden Jumper and fellow fellow defensive tackle Kuao Peihopa. 

From the outset, the two young D-linemen appeared physically ready to play college football and were hardly intimidated by their surroundings. 

The coaching staff made sure that Tunuufi and Peihopa got plenty of looks this spring, mixing them in with the vets. Tunuufi had a tackle in the spring game.  

“I’m really happy with those two guys,” Husky defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. “They’re certainly going to be really good football players here. Kuao [enrolled in winter quarter] came a little bit earlier than Voi. But for two freshmen, we feel pretty pleased about those two guys.”

Going down the roster in numerical order, this is another of our post-spring assessments of all of the Husky talent at hand, gleaned from a month of observations, as a way to keep everyone engaged during the offseason.

Tunuufi is one of four players from East High School in the Salt Lake City area who either are on the UW roster or committed to the program, along with Taki Taimani, Jordan Lolohea and newly pledged Ben Roberts. All are defensive linemen. Each possesses a Polynesian background. 

Compact in size, Tunuufi is known for his extra quick feet blended with natural strength. He scored on a 65-yard fumble return this past season after an East High teammate stripped the ball loose, displaying his mobility for a lineman.

Considered a 3-star recruit, he had plenty of scholarship options, receiving offers from hometown Utah, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Virginia, Arizona State, Colorado and a host of others.  

Tunuufi, who has all of the tools to be the Huskies' next great defensive lineman, could stand to put on a few pounds, but he should play fairly soon in some manner.

After all, he wears a UW number that belongs on the field as much as possible.

Tunuufi's 2021 Outlook: Projected reserve defensive tackle

UW Service Time: None

Stats: None

Individual Honors: Not yet

Pro Prospects: 2025 NFL second-day draftee

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