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BYU’s Fui Vakapuna: From ‘Hard Knocks’ to helping athletes succeed
Sports » After failing to catch on as a fullback, he’s happy with his fallback.

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The episode hardly foretold what he describes as "my happiest moment here at BYU." In April 2009, he passed a final exam in the biology course he had failed as a freshman and earned a degree in sociology.

That’s the story he loves to tell about life beyond football. "If I can make it, I know anybody can make it, guaranteed," he said. "I’d never think I’d be in this position, ever."

At a glance

About the series

What if you could play one year at the highest level of a sport? How would you view that experience and how would you spend the rest of your life? Utah high school graduates Fui Vakapuna, Zach Sorensen, Brad Sutterfield and Britton Johnsen each realized a lifelong dream, and then his opportunity was gone. These are their stories.

Today » Fui Vakapuna

About Fui Vakapuna

Age » 30.

High school » East.

College » BYU.

Pros » Cincinnati, 2009 (active roster).

Family » Wife, Leonne; daughter Maiana (23 months).

Job » BYU assistant to the athletic director/student services.

Notable » Vakapuna’s brother Tauni was a Utah running back; cousin Fahu Tahi played five seasons for the Minnesota Vikings as a fullback.

Just for practice » Fui Vakapuna spent parts of two seasons on NFL teams’ eight-man practice squads, earning about $6,000 per week. By comparison, during the nine weeks he spent on Cincinnati’s 53-man roster in 2009, he qualified for a minimum prorated salary of nearly $17,000 per week.

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