No Drama with Sama Paama, One of the Biggest and Most Intriguing Huskies

Dan Raley

Sama Paama is a man of legend. OK, barely a man. But he's most certainly unique.

In Hawaii, he was said to have lifted up a blocking sled with his Kaimuki High School football coach standing on it. That's a feat normally requiring the strength of three human beings. Without the coach on board.

As Paama enters his second year at the University of Washington, he's just 18 years old, young for his age.

Yet on the football team, he's one of 14 players who tip the scales at 300 pounds or heavier. He's extra big for his age. 

The 6-foot-4, 348-pound defensive lineman weighs in as the Huskies' second heftiest player, trailing only Ulumoo Ale by a scant four pounds. He's down 10 or so pounds since leaving high school.

His full name is extra long, Evangelist Elisama Paama. Sama for short.

He has appeared in just one Husky game, for just a few plays against, who else, the University of Hawaii. Think that was a strategic substitution, meant to keep the big kid from getting homesick?

Big things are planned for him whenever Paama is ready to draw extended minutes and college football restarts. The Huskies have made that clear to him.

"They told me they were looking for the next Vita Vea," he said of the UW coaching staff.

If that's the case, Paama will have to demonstrate a combination of elite strength and speed for a growing football player who can be virtually impossible to block.

This is the 59th profile of a returning Washington football player, each of which can be found on the site by scrolling back. While the pandemic has interrupted and delayed team activities, Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated offers continuous coverage of the team.

Everyone does the recruiting thing a little different. In Paama's case, he stood behind nine cards lined up on a table with college names and logos printed on them at his high school in Waipahu, just outside of Honolulu.

He wore a purple Hawaiian shirt, which should have been a dead giveaway of what was coming. He had on an orange lei as a necessary accessory.

The big kid rocked from side to side as he stood and spoke to a large gathering of Kaimuki teachers, teammates and his single mother, Ana. He made her wipe away a tear as he thanked her for raising him right. It was obvious he was well-liked by everyone in the room.

After choosing the Huskies without much suspense and signing his letter of intent with his left hand, Paama joined his friends in a chorus and they sang kind of a brooding Hawaiian song.

As a widely pursued football player, he passed up Alabama, Nebraska, USC, Oregon, Arizona State, Utah and several others to make himself available to the UW. He even surprised himself with his final selection.

"I didn't hear of them before," Paama said of the Huskies. "Before, it was always USC. That was my dream school. When I went on my visit (to Seattle), it changed my whole mindset."

It probably didn't hurt that he is now one of eight Hawaiians on the UW football roster.

The Huskies obtained a player who swallows up opposing runners like a big wave makes surfers disappear on the Hawaiian coastline. He's got natural strength and good feet that make for all sorts of football possibilities. 

To speed his progress before the pandemic closed things down, the Huskies paired up Paama in offseason drills with senior defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike, a returning All-Pac-12 performer now drawing All-American consideration. The old guy was supposed to teach the young one new tricks.

"It's always an upperclassman and a freshman," defensive-line coach Ikaika Malloe said. "Levi and Sama did drills together, so they can play fast, and the other guy can align him."

Nothing Paama does going forward should surprise anyone at the UW. After all, he also handled kickoffs for his high school team. Unique certainly best describes this Hawaiian curiosity.

SUMMARY: He's a huge player with great mobility. He probably needed a year in the weight room to make himself fit enough to play long stretches at this level. 

GRADE (1 to 5): Paama gets a 3. Once he has a chance in the trenches, that number should rise significantly. It's time to see what he can do.

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1

Excellent article, Mr. Raley. Every time I read one of these, I start salivating re: seeing these new guys on the field making big-time plays. The recruiting has been strong for the past half-decade, and the cumulative effect will be enjoyable to watch in 2020 and beyond. Fingers, toes, eyes,....all crossed for a college football season!