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2023 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Jonah Tavai, DL, San Diego State University

Jonah Tavai the strong and physical defensive lineman from San Diego State University recently sat down with Draft Diamonds scout Justin Berendzen
  • Name: Jonah Tavai
  • Position: DL
  • College: San Diego State University
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 285 lbs
  • Twitter: @tavai_tavai55
  • Instagram: @tavai_tavai55

What made you decide you wanted to be a football player?

Growing up with two immigrant parents who idealized college, they saw football as a means to further our education. I started playing because it just felt right to be on the field and running around.

What are you looking to achieve as a football player going forward?

Being able to play on sundays has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. I just want to be able to prove myself to everyone and especially to those who helped me get to where I am.

If you could hang out with any football player past or present for a day who and why?

Aaron Donald is one that I want to learn from and witness his work ethic first hand. Gronk definitely knows how to have a good time there are so many that I could name.

What are your favorite moments from your football life?

Top moment ever was our bowl game this year reaching my goal of double digit sacks in a season. Something I always wanted to do since being in college and completing it is something I will never forget.

I’ll also never forget losing weight with my older brothers to play pop warner.

Which one of your family members inspires you the most and why?

I can’t narrow it to one but my parents will forever mean everything to me. My mom obviously took a tremendous role in taking care of us 7 kids and all the sacrifices she made will not go unnoticed. She went above and beyond in all areas to get us the opportunities to excel in what we do. My dad worked to provide for the house and woke up everyday to go to his 2-3 jobs and still made time on the weekends to attend our games.

What is your favorite defensive scheme and why?

I haven’t had any problems with any schemes but having a free rush one on one or even free rush 2 on 1 had to have been my favorite plays at San Diego State. It showed our coach trusted us and it was also like a statement to their offensive line that we are just better and most of the time it would do more confusion to the offensive line in my opinion.

What should we know about Jonah Tavai the person?

I want everyone to know that I’m advocating for all those who are being doubted. I want to be that role model to those who have the potential that putting the time in will always be worth it and can lead to bigger things.

What stands out about your film the most?

The percentage of plays I play in the backfield whether I make the play or disrupt it has grown year by year to where I am practically “living in the backfield”. I also try to keep my motor running for as long and as high as possible.

How do you handle challenges both in life and on the football field?

First is always analysis of the issue and after that I come up with a game plan and take them on. I try not to dodge or flake on my issues and resolve them as soon as possible.

What would a team get in a player like you?

A run stopper and a qb disruptor but more importantly a student of the game. I’m someone who is always trying to learn something new and something to take advantage of.

What do you love the most about the game of football?


Who is the most underrated you’ve played with and why?

Michael Shawcroft held our defense together at SDSU playing with knowledge and instinct. He is one of the best overall football players I have been around.

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