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Kaufusi family from Tonga definitely figured out American football

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Defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi answers questions during BYU Media Day at BYU Broadcasting in Provo on Thursday, June 30, 2016.

Defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi answers questions during BYU Media Day at BYU Broadcasting in Provo on Thursday, June 30, 2016.

Kristin Murphy,

They just play football.

It’s been nearly five decades since Petelo Kaufusi and his wife Eveline migrated to the United States from the Kingdom of Tonga and the island whose capital city is Nuku’alofa.

But in that time, since arriving in the U.S. in 1972, the impact this couple has had in producing Division I football players is amazing. Upon arrival in America, they knew the best chance their children would have in making it was to get an education. Secondly, to get college scholarships, football paved the way. In this regard, they struck gold.

All six sons became major college players. The oldest two, Steve and Rich, played for BYU. The younger four, Jeff, Henry, Doug and Jason, played at the University of Utah.

Steve says his siblings have “been blessed” to have been given the opportunities they have experienced over the years, noting many Tongan immigrants are not so lucky, with some offspring joining gangs or struggling in other ways.

Here’s a breakdown of this remarkable run by the Kaufusi family, and how it has turned to a second generation of players. Petelo and Eveline have grandchildren who are highly recruited high school football stars with major college offers.

Steve Kaufusi is the oldest. He played at Dixie College, then BYU, and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988. He has coached at Utah and is now BYU’s defensive line coach. Steve’s son Bronson was just drafted in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens after a sterling career at BYU. He broke his foot in training camp this summer. His younger brother, BYU basketball player Corbin, is now a defensive lineman on the Cougar football team. A third son, Devin, signed with BYU and is serving an LDS mission.

The second-born Kaufusi is a daughter, Makalita Vea. She has two sons who earned scholarships to major colleges. Peter Rolf signed at Ball State and transferred to Weber State where he graduated. David Rolf signed at Michigan State, then transferred to Utah where he graduated.

Rich Kaufusi, the third sibling, followed in Steve’s footsteps to Dixie College and BYU and played on the Ty Detmer-led Cougar team that upset defending national champion Miami in Provo in 1990. He has a son, Tangaloa Kaufusi, who has signed at Stanford before recently departing for an LDS mission to Taiwan.

Losaline (Kaufusi) had a son Pati Taumoelau play and graduate from the University of Utah. A second son, Doug Taumoelau, is a freshman at Oregon State.

Jeff Kaufusi, No. 5 in the family, had a great career at Utah. His son Isaiah is a freshman at BYU after serving as a missionary to Tonga. His younger brother Jackson signed at BYU this past February and just left for church service to Melbourne, Australia.

Henry Kaufusi, the sixth child, played at Utah. His namesake Henry signed at Mount Sac JC and is now on the roster for the Snow College badgers.

Doug Kaufusi followed Henry and played for the University of Utah. As an offensive lineman, he received attention as an All-American and Lombardi Award candidate. His children are not yet in high school. He starred as a player and has coached at Olympus High School, where he graduated in 2001.

Jason Kaufusi played for the University of Utah and his children are not yet of high school age. He is currently the defensive coordinator for Weber State and in his fifth year with the Wildcats. He was a defensive graduate assistant at BYU from 2012-2013 and has been an administrative assistant to Ute head coach Kyle Whittingham. He was 4A player of the year at East High School, a team that went 13-0 and won the state title in 1996.

What’s in a name?

For the Kaufusi clan, it has been a long string of Grade A college players, many of whom have become leaders in their respective communities.

Yes, they have been blessed.

EMAIL: dharmon@deseretnews.com.

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