September 2, 2009
Fotu Speaks Out
Former starting linebacker Nai Fotu has had a long road to playing in 2009. Fotu tore his ACL late in the season against rival BYU and missed the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. Fotu sat out spring practices and most doubted he would be ready to play and contribute in 2009 after moving to defensive end. Fotu has come a long way since limping through drill early in fall camp and is ready to help the Utah defense. UteZone caught up with Fotu to find out about his health, his role, and facing his former defensive coordinator.
UteZone: How's the knee?
Nai Fotu: My knee is good. I rehabbed all summer. My knee feels really good, there's no pain or anything. Hopefully it will stay like this.
UZ: Are you at 100%?
Fotu: Yeah, I'd like to say I am 100%.
UZ: What did you think about moving up from linebacker to defensive end?
Fotu: I really didn't think much of it because I knew from the beginning when Paul Kruger left that I had to step up because we're kind of low on depth at end. I was recruited as an end anyway so I have a little experience so it didn't really change for me. It worked out pretty good.
UZ: What's the biggest difference from playing stud linebacker to defensive end?
I like to say the biggest change is going to the three-point stance instead of standing up like a linebacker does.
UZ: Why is that such a big difference?
Fotu: Just because I have to get used to it again. It's been a while since I've played defensive end. I'm used to it now so we'll see come Thursday.
UZ: Did you ever consider redshirting, letting the knee heal, and having two good years at end?
Fotu: I did think of it but really I think back and I'm glad I made the choice to not redshirt. My knee feels good and everything feels good.
UZ: What can you tell us about Koa Misi and his status?
Fotu: I really can't say much other than he is doing good.
UZ: Are you ready to step up and take his place against Utah State?
Fotu: I've got to. Koa has a lot of expectations that I've got to meet. That guy is a beast so I've got to step up and do what I've got to do.
UZ: What are your expectations for yourself, then?
Fotu: (laughs) Hopefully, meet Koa's and meet mine, too.
UZ: What kind of depth does Utah have with you, Koa, and Derrick Shelby?
Fotu: We've got all-around strength at defensive end, there's a lot of talent. Not just us three, but there's Christian Cox and the freshmen are pretty good, too. Everybody's so good that the spots are always being fought for. Hopefully everything goes well.
UZ: What does it take to get to the quarterback at this level?
Fotu: Just be quicker and faster off the ball I guess.
UZ: Who's the toughest linemen on the team for you to go up against?
Fotu: It's hard to pick one; our offensive linemen are very talented, all of them have different styles. I'd say Zane Beadles, though, he's dominant, he's a monster.
UZ: What will it be like for you, Thursday, when you look across the field and see your old coach Gary Andersen on the other sideline wearing Aggie blue?
Fotu: Man, all I know is that he's a Utah man till death because he has the tattoo - a Utah tattoo on him. So, coach Andersen, don't deny it boy, you're still with us! (laughs)
UZ: What are we going to see out of Nai Fotu and the Utah defense, not just Thursday but throughout 2009?
Fotu: Hard work. I will be there for my teammates and do my best to do everything the coaches ask of me and that's about it. Our defense can be good, real good, but that is up to us.
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