Utah grad transfer Vaha Vainuku ‘fired up’ to come out of retirement, play for Huskers
Somewhere between Lincoln and Salt Lake City, Vaha Vainuku looked out the window at the clouds 30,000 feet above the ground, and smiled.
He was really going to play football again.
“Some nights you can’t sleep and you just miss it and you just keep dreaming of football and you keep wishing for what could have been,” Nebraska’s newest defensive tackle said. “I don’t know, man, I’m just excited. I don’t think anyone could ever know what I’m going through right now. I’m really fired up to a level I can’t even express.”
Vainuku committed to Nebraska on Friday after a visit to Lincoln. He will turn 25 in October and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Vainuku committed to Utah as a senior in 2011, and was part of the Utes’ 2012 recruiting class as the No. 82 defensive tackle in the country. After committing, he spent two years on a church mission in Oakland, California. And in January 2015, he returned to Utah and suited up.
During his first padded practice, the 6-foot-3, 295-pound lineman from Salt Lake City suffered a Lisfranc fracture, tearing two ligaments in his right foot. He had two surgeries, but he wasn’t the same. He appeared in two games in 2016. In 2017, he retired from football.
For a year, he tried to find his way. But he found himself alone in his apartment in tears, missing practices and offseason weight training.
“Sometimes you dread practice, like, ‘Damn I got practice. It’s gonna be hot and I’m gonna be tired,’ and all that,” Vainuku said. “But surprisingly, this past year that was one of the things I really missed. I really wished I was out there sweating and grinding with my boys.”
Loyalty from coaches leads to juco offensive tackle Desmond Bland committing to Huskers
Hours after Utah’s Vaha Vainuku announced his commitment to Nebraska, Arizona Western’s Desmond Bland said he is doing the same.
Bland, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive tackle, is rated a four-star recruit by Rivals. He held 11 scholarship offers, including from Arizona, Central Florida, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisville and Missouri.
Bland received a Nebraska offer March 29. He plans to graduate this December and join the Huskers the following spring.
Bland told The World-Herald he committed to Nebraska because the coaches kept recruiting him even after they left UCF.
“I also chose them because the campus is beautiful, and my mom likes the school as well,” Bland said. “They told me they love how athletic I am and how good I move. They also said they love how dominant I am on the field.”
Bland said he expects the opportunity to play right away when he gets to campus.
“I know it’s not going to get handed to me,” he said.
Nebraska invites fans to attend two Friday Night Lights camps in June
Nebraska announced Friday that its two Friday Night Lights camps in June will be open to the public. The events, which feature recruits from around the country, are June 15 and 22.
Former coach Mike Riley began the camps at Nebraska and opened them to the public last year. When Scott Frost was hired, it wasn’t clear if he would follow the same blueprint.
Friday confirmed he will.
A year ago, top recruits poured into Lincoln to show off in front of around 3,000 fans. Among those who visited those weekends included most of the top 2018 in-state recruits, five-star Micah Parsons (Penn State), and four-stars Houston Griffith (Notre Dame), Joshua Moore (Texas), Cameron Brown (Ohio State), Chase Williams (Southern California), Brendan Radley-Hiles (Oklahoma) and Council Bluffs product Max Duggan (TCU).