Josiah Tauaefa: the rise of number 55


Ethan Pham, The Paisano

Samantha Ceballos

After a few bad seasons and dwindling Roadrunner fans, this past season proved to be one of history making, both as a team and individually. One of the greatest assets for the ‘Runners football program this past season is linebacker Josiah Tauaefa. He has created quite the resume with his skills and leadership on the football field. Having ended his explosive freshman season with 115 tackles, Tauaefa has become one of the most decorated players in UTSA’s short football history.   

The red-shirted freshman came to UTSA from Corinth, Texas where he attended Lake Dallas High School. There, Tauaefa received many MVP honors and has since kept adding on to his impressive list of accolades. Before making it onto the UTSA football roster, he rejected offers from Colorado State, UTEP and Fresno State.

Tauaefa comes from an athletic family. His father, Siolo Tauaefa, played high school football and then focused his attention toward a power lifting group, The Power Team. Both of Tauaefa’s older brothers also played college football. Isaac played for UTEP and Josh played for Minnesota; both were defensive tackles.

While at UTSA, the long-haired powerhouse player started off his season with 13 tackles against Alabama State. His greatest record being 15 tackles against Old Dominion. Tauaefa earned the title of Defensive Player of the Week for Conference-USA in October after an amazing game against Southern Miss where he racked up 12 tackles and gained the first interception of his career, helping the ‘Runners win 55-32.

Tauaefa stares down ASU punt returner while playing special teams.
Tauaefa stares down ASU punt returner while playing special teams.

After everything was said and done, Tauaefa ended his season as Conference USA’s Freshman of the Year and First-team All-Conference, making him the first player to earn an individual honor in Roadrunner football history. He is the second player within the program to earn a spot on a league’s top team. Tauaefa follows in the footsteps of Triston Wade, the first to earn first-team All-WAC (Western Athletic Conference) honors in 2012.

Recently, Tauaefa was named to the 2016 Sound Mind Sound Body/FWAA Freshman All-American team by the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America).

Tauaefa’s 2016 concluded with nine TFLs, six sacks, seven quarterback hurries, his first interception and 115 tackles (the record for a single-season in Roadrunner football). These stats ranked him second in Football Bowl Subdivision Freshman of the Year.

Tauaefa’s dynamic and impressive performance on the field, as well as his dancing along the sidelines, has made him a fan favorite.  This season brought many ups and downs for Roadrunner fans as the team began to take shape under a new head coach, Frank Wilson. Attendance numbers and school moral increased thanks to the dynamic players and coaching staff. The 2017 season holds nothing but opportunity (and hopefully more honors) for the team and for Tauaefa.