FIFE, Wash. -- Before the start of his sophomore season in 2011, Monike Failauga was at a scrimmage with his Fife (Wash.) teammates.
The 6-foot-1, 315-pound defensive tackle saw Washington’s Danny Shelton on the other side of the field. Shelton, also a defensive tackle, was preparing for his freshman season with the Huskies. Failauga approached him to ask for some advice.
“He just told me what it takes,” said Failauga, now a junior. “It’s not always going to be size. I’m going to get beat by people that are way lighter than me, smaller than me. It’s all about heart. No matter the size of the kid across from me, I have to give it my all every single play. I’m just now learning to be relentless every single play.”
One year later, Failauga continues to lean on the lessons of that conversation. It took that talk for him to understand what he needed to do in order to take the next step in his development.
“He just told me what it takes, because I always thought I was just the biggest thing on earth,” Failauga said. “I feel like I’ve improved a lot. In ninth grade I honestly wasn’t coachable at all. This year I’ve listened to everything my coaches have told me.”
His focus, dedication and success on the field have caught the attention of several college coaches. Failauga said he often spends his lunch hour watching film with coach Kent Nevin.
One day, he stepped into his coach’s office and saw a man wearing a shirt with a large W printed on the front. It was Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.
“I just froze,” Failauga said. “It was funny.”
While he has yet to land a college offer, he has received interest from both Washington and Washington State.
“It would mean a lot to me,” Failauga said. “I’ve always been a fan of UW. I was raised to love UW.”
Until a scholarship offer comes his way, the desire to play college football keeps pushing him forward.
“He has that intensity,” Nevin said. “When he wants to play, he can play with anybody in the state.”