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Baldwin grad Lotulelei a starter for UNLV
August 14, 2012 - Robert Collias
Former Baldwin football coach Jimmy Morimoto, now UNLV's director of player personnel, emailed me a couple stories on the progress of starting linebacker John Lotulelei Monday.
Lotulelei's climb to the top of the Rebels' depth chart at linebacker has been remarkable, according to Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was UNLV's defensive representative at the Mountain West Conference media days, but barely garnered a mention in one of my stories last season as he was emerging for the Rebels.
Lotulelei was third on the team last season and is the top returning tackler (60 tackles, three for loss), even though he was a reserve most of the season.
Morimoto says in the story linked above, "We kept (Lotulelei) a secret as long as we could" as they recruited him out of Merced (Calif.) Junior College, where he spent most of his time as an undersized (6-0, 235) defensive end.
"I made most of my highlights as a D-end, and (college coaches) never saw me as a linebacker," Lotulelei told Anderson. "I was lucky to get picked up by UNLV. They saw something."
You can see what Lotulelei had to say at MWC media days on video in this link.
Former MIL athletes who played for UNLV last season — Sean Tesoro, Keahi Raikes, and Troy Aoki — are not on the current Rebel roster. Tesoro, a former OL starter for the Rebels who has battled injuries throughout his career, will skip his final season of eligibility to concentrate on school.
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