Vita Vea: Destined For Big Things

Vita Vea: Destined For Big Things

Vita Vea

Vita Vea is a big dude.  

Actually, that’s an understatement – at 6’4”, 344 pounds, the former University of Washington nose tackle is massive, even by NFL standards. 

So it’s kind of crazy that in college he actually got the chance to play quarterback. Well… sort of. 

“I was a wildcat quarterback in high school,” Vea explained. “Once I showed my ability to run, our head coach eventually gave me a chance to throw the ball. But when it was time, I became way too focused on who I was throwing to and making sure that I threw the perfect spiral. So, I went back, did the three step drop, and let it go. But it was horrible and the ball went like 30 yards in the air. That was the last chance I ever had to be QB.”  

Well, maybe the life of a signal caller wasn’t in the cards for Vea, but he may have picked up a different skill from his time behind center: his fast feet. The largest man on the field shouldn’t also be one of the quickest, but this 23-year-old defies those odds. He’s not out there to just clog lanes, he’s there to make plays. 

At a position that usually doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, Vea was still able to rack up 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for losses over the last two seasons. He was the anchor to a stout Washington defense and helped push the team to another outstanding season.   

And the person who gave him the push he needed every step of the way during his career is his older brother. “I was that little brother who followed my older brother everywhere,” Vea said. “No matter what I did, he would always lead me in the right direction. This included playing sports. That was always a big thing for us, but he also taught me so much about life and playing that extra role as a volunteer in the community.” 

Whoever drafts Vea in April will be getting an asset to the team and to the city itself. But they’ll also be getting someone with a true passion for the game. 

“The best advice I could give to a younger athlete is ‘have as much fun as you can,’” he said. “’Time flies fast and before you know it, you’ll be at the Combine, getting ready for the pros. So make sure to enjoy all of it.

 


Thanks to Vita Vea for his time and make sure to check out the Eastbay Blog for more exclusive stories on the biggest names of the 2018 rookie class.

2017 College Football Preview: The Top 10 Teams You Need To Watch

2017 College Football Preview: The Top 10 Teams You Need To Watch

With college football season finally here, let’s talk about what you really care about — those teams with the best shot to make it to the playoffs. So who will be the last four standing? Here are the 10 teams you need to watch:

1. Alabama (AP Rank 1)

College Alabama

Number one is no surprise. Nick Saban’s squad lost a ton of key players to the NFL last year, but, like always, the roster is stacked with elite prospects groomed to take their place. Watch for dangerous running QB Jalen Hurts to improve as a passer this year, junior wideout Calvin Ridley to contend for numerous awards, and for the Crimson Tide to hold on to the number one seed.

2. Ohio State (AP Rank 2)

College OSU

Urban Meyer and co. have their own incredible recruiting class and they’ll be put to good use. The Buckeyes will be led by experienced senior J.T. Barrett on offense, but the real gem of the team is the defensive line. Linemen Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa, and Sam Hubbard should be wreaking havoc in opposing backfields all season long.

3. Florida State (AP Rank 3)

College FSU

FSU was dealt a major blow in 2016 when safety Derwin James missed almost the entire year with a knee injury. The versatile, athletic playmaker may just be the best defensive player in college football, and the whole unit will improve drastically with him on the field in 2017. On the other side of the ball, QB Deondre Francois will look to build off of a solid freshman season without the help of do-everything RB Dalvin Cook, who is now a Minnesota Viking.

4. Clemson (AP Rank 5)

College Clemson

This may seem high for a team that seemingly lost key players at every position, but there’s still talent across the board. Junior QB Kelly Bryant has the biggest shoes to fill, but with great receiving options like Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow still around, the Tigers don’t need him to be Deshaun Watson 2.0. They host FSU on November 11 in a game that could have major playoff implications.

5. Penn State (AP Rank 6)

College Penn St

Remember the name Saquon Barkley come awards season. The electrifying Nittany Lion RB is primed for a huge year. QB Trace McSorley and TE Mike Gesicki are no slouches either. The date to pay attention to: October 28. If they want to head to the playoffs, they’ll have to get the W when they square off against the Buckeyes in Columbus.

6. USC (AP Rank 4)

College USC

QB Sam Darnold and RB Ronald Jones give the Trojans a formidable backfield and guarantee that this offense can keep score with anyone. The defense is led by junior LB Cameron Smith and is full of solid players, but USC’s schedule will be a beast. They’ll have plenty of difficult tests, including battles against Stanford, Texas, and Washington State.

7. Washington (AP Rank 8)

College Washington

From WR John Ross to the formidable secondary trio of Kevin King, Sidney Jones, and Budda Baker, the Huskies lost a lot of talent to the NFL. But this year’s team still has a star signal caller in junior Jake Browning and plenty of young talent to pick up the pieces at corner and safety. Look for Chris Petersen’s team to be in the hunt all season long.

8. Wisconsin (AP Rank 9)

The schedule sets up very favorably for the Badgers this season. Besides a Nov. 18 battle against Michigan, this unit will almost undoubtedly be favored in every game they play. If Coach Chryst can get a step up in performance from sophomore QB Alex Hornibrook to complement their always-formidable running attack, the offense should be solid. And ‘solid’ is all this team will need on that end if the Wisconsin defense can perform as well as they did in 2016.

9. Michigan (AP Rank 11)

College Michigan

Only one starter returns on the Wolverine defense. 11 Michigan alumni heard their name called during this April’s NFL Draft. Simply put, Jim Harbaugh lost a lot of quality players heading into 2017. But the cupboard is far from bare. QB Wilton Speight is back after a solid year one, sophomore RB Chris Evans leads a great running back group, and the roster, as a whole, is loaded with five-star talent.

10. Auburn (AP Rank 12)

College Auburn

Former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham will be given the keys on offense and he’s got a lot to work with. Sophomore WR Nate Craig-Myers and RB Kamryn Pettway should keep the points and yards flowing. The defense returns a lot of big-time playmakers and should be stout once again. The Tigers have a crucial early match up on September 9 when they go on the road to face Clemson.


Did we miss someone? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @Eastbay. No matter how things shake out, one thing is certain: it’s going to be an amazing season.