Pio Vatuvei, Former Louisville Defensive end and USA Hawk signs with the Utah Warriors
Salt Lake CIty, December 11, 2017: The Utah Warriors announce the signing of former Louisville Defensive End and USA Hawk, Pio Vatuvei.
“Signing with the Warriors means a lot to me and I look forward to putting in plenty of hours of hard work and effort with the team to have a successful season.” said Vatuvei. “I love new challenges and I love to compete. I put a lot on myself to do more than is expected. My brother passed away a few years ago and he was the best rugby player I knew. He always told me that I have all the talent in the world, but I just have to believe, and put my mind, body and soul into the game if I want to be successful. I didn’t know what he meant when he was saying it, but with this opportunity with the Utah Warriors I plan on putting those words my brother told me all those years ago into action.”
Vatuvei comes from a Tongan family and grew up in Hayward California. At Patterson High School Vatuvei was a nationally ranked Defensive End and was recruited by Utah and USC, but went to the University of Washington as a Freshman. In 2014 Vatuvei transferred to Louisville playing two seasons for the Cardinals and won the Music City Bowl in 2015 over Texas A&M.
“he’s a humble hard working guy who lets his actions on the field speak for themself. As a football defensive end he brings a lot of physicality to the team”
Vatuvei started playing rugby with his brother and cousins when he was young to stay busy after the Football season. He was a member of the Hayward Griffins from 2006 to 2011. Football presented the most opportunities at the time, so rugby took the back seat until 2016 when Vatuvei played at Louisville.
In his first season with the Cardinals Vatuvei caught the attention of the All American coaches and was invited into their scouting camp. Recently Vatuvei joined the Jacksonville Axemen Rugby League team and represented the USA, starting for the Hawks against Canada in September.
As a Defensive End Vatuvei was 6’2 and 296 lbs, but on the rugby pitch he has played center, flanker and started in the halves for the USA Hawkes at 250 lbs. Pio will look to move to prop with the Warriors with the option of utilizing his agility, speed and size in other areas of the pitch.
“Pio is a great find for us,” said Warriors Head Coach, Alf Daniels, “he’s a humble hard working guy who lets his actions on the field speak for themself. As a football defensive end he brings a lot of physicality to the team, but i’ve seen him run and he’s a handful to try and stop with the ball in hand. He’s been through a lot in his life and adapts with whatever challenge is thrown his way. That’s not only the kind of player we want, that’s the kind of Warriors we need.”
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