In the Taua household in southeast Lompoc, a room full of the Taua brothers’ gridiron accolades fills the space on the left side of the entrance – from photos, to past uniforms, to awards they have collected.
And on Wednesday, National Signing Day, that was the place the latest Taua household star committed to a Football Bowl Subdivision program – Lompoc High's Toa Taua officially signed his national letter of intent to the University of Nevada-Reno.
Taua sat with a Lompoc High helmet on the left end of the table and the helmet of his future college nestled on the right side while being flanked by his parents, older brother Ainuu who made the drive from Los Angeles, and several other family members and loved ones.
Wearing a Nevada polo shirt and sporting a customized Nevada hat with a Polynesian flair, Taua penned his commitment to the Wolf Pack. He ended his signing by thanking everyone in the room for their love and support and then flashed the Wolf Pack sign with his hands.
Taua spoke about living the moment of solidifying his commitment to the Mountain West Conference school — the place where older brother Vai became a perennial 1,000-yard rusher.
“It’s a stress reliever. Some nights I couldn’t sleep just thinking about where I’m going to be in the next four years, but I’m glad it’s all over with. I’m signed to run with the ‘Pack,” Taua said.
He wasn’t the only one basking in the fact he gets to wear the navy blue, grey and white. So is his father Tee Taua, who coached the Brave linebackers this past season. Like his sons and other family members, the father proudly wore a Nevada shirt and hat during his son’s ceremony.
“It’s special because it’s pretty tough to get out of this area,” Tee Taua said. “I’m really happy with the outcome. This is my third boy to get out of here so I’m pretty proud.”
Ainuu Taua, who held a similar ceremony in 2014 at the Taua house before committing to UCLA, shared equal zeal for his younger brother’s commitment and reflected on his journey to get there.
“It’s why I came down here. Got a little excuse from school to come down here and watch little man grow and sign his college papers,” Ainuu Taua said. “It’s a cool accomplishment to see him sign – because I wish everyone can see someone go through that.”
Ainuu Taua said he had a strong feeling his brother would become the next football star in the Taua household from the time he started running with a football during his older brother’s practices.
“From the time he was six running around with the football, we knew he was going to work and we were going to work with him. We started to be on each other on a grown man level – teaching him how to practice and everything,” Ainuu Taua said. “His commitment is something we’re excited about as a family.”
Finally, Taua’s now former high school head football coach Andrew Jones reflected back on the four years of dominance from No. 35 in the LHS blue and white.
“He had a great career at Lompoc and arguably was one of the better recruits to come out of here – and he lived up to the bill,” Jones said. “Coming up, when he was 10 years old, everyone thought he was special back then and he continued to handle the pressure and accolades that came with it. I’m super excited for him and I’m looking forward to watching him play on Saturdays.”
Taua announced his verbal commitment to Nevada during the third annual Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 20. However, verbal commitments are considered non-binding until a player signs his letter of intent to seal his decision to attend the university of his choosing.
Taua also wanted to point out that he’s not heading to Reno to chase his brother’s legacy or finish what Vai started. The latest Taua is out to build his own resume in the Mountain West Conference.
“I really feel like I’m starting my own legacy. I didn’t go to Nevada because my brother went there. I’m going to Nevada to start something for myself and make a name for myself up there,” Taua said.