UW's Letuligaseno Has Team's Longest Name; Could Be a Big Name

Dan Raley

He brings the longest surname to the University of Washington football team.

Letuligasenoa, as in the guy who also answers to Tuli.

For those keeping track of such things, he leads the Huskies in syllables with seven.

That's two more than Onwuzurike, as in Levi.

The challenge for Letuligasenoa, now that he's taught everyone how to spell that name of his that goes into double overtime, is to hear it called out way more often on public-address systems in football stadiums across the Pac-12.

On the tackle for Washington, Le-tu-li-ga-se-no-a!

The name just rolls off the tongue.

The rest of him has the potential to steamroller anyone who gets in his way and swallow running backs whole (see accompanying photo).

He's a 6-foot-2, 311-pound bundle of defensive tackle fury, a very active player who possesses the strength, leverage and quickness to dominate the action in front of him.

This is another in a series of profiles on prospective UW football starters. While spring practice has been canceled or postponed because of the pandemic, Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated continues to provide uninterrupted coverage.

Entering his third season in the program, Letuligasenoa's only real problem is getting some of his older, well-polished teammates to let him share in more of their minutes. 

No position area on this team has more potential star power than the Husky down linemen. There's Onwuzurike, returning first-team All-Pac-12 selection. Josiah Bronson, sixth-year NCAA player and returning 12-game starter. Taki Taimani, all 6-2 and 327 pounds of him. Four more highly regarded but untested young players.

And Letuligasenoa.

He became an immediate Husky fan favorite when it was learned that he flipped his recruiting commitment from USC to Washington at the last minute in 2018. Anytime you can take something away from the Trojans -- a championship, a game, a player -- it generates huge favor with the local populace.

"I didn't know I was going to change my mind," Letuligasenoa told the San Jose Mercury News. "It was definitely a hard decision, but I just did whatever was best for me. After I went on my visit to Washington, I just had a better feeling."

He enters his sophomore year after appearing in a pair of games and preserving his redshirt in 2018 and playing in 12 of 13 games last season, missing only the Las Vegas Bowl because of injury. He showed glimpses of his skill set that put him in the late-hour recruiting tug of war by coming up with 23 tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss.

Letuligasenoa, rated the nation's No. 8 defensive tackle and 105th recruit overall by 247Sports, changed his commitment after meeting former Husky defender Vita Vea, who now plays on the front line for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were both Northern California guys. That mattered a lot to him.

"I saw a kid from not too far from where I live, him making it out and everything, and that definitely had a huge impact on me," Letuligasenoa said. "I definitely felt like I was part of them already."

In the video, former UW defensive lineman Mike Ewaliko offers a general observation of the current group of players.

At defensive tackle, the Huskies have had a particularly good run of accomplished players who have received high-level recognition and advanced to the pros. The torch of success has been passed from Danny Shelton to Vita Vea to Greg Grimes and now to Onwuzurike. 

It is hoped that Letuligasenoa can keep it going. As the line of great Husky defensive tackles gets longer, so do the names.

SUMMARY: He's in the system, a sophomore just waiting for seniors to graduate. By all accounts, he is as good as everyone projected. 

GRADE (1 to 5): Letuligasenoa gets a 3.5. He spelled the older guys last season. Don't be surprised if he makes someone sit and watch him play.