“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”
First team All American and Pac 12 Defensive player of the Year, Talanoa Hufanga has seen his draft stock rise throughout the 2020 season. As he finished the regular season with four straight games with an interception, the excitement hasn’t stopped Hufanga from remaining humble and focused on what matters most throughout it all.
A top ranked high school recruit out of Corvallis, Oregon, Talanoa Hufanga first played football in third grade. As he grew on the field, he also continued growing his faith off the field. He says, “Growing up as a little kid, I was raised in the church and that was the main focus in our family’s life. We always knew what God can do when you put your trust in him. When I first started playing football, my games would be played on Sunday. I would have the opportunity to play the game I love in the morning and give thanks to the Lord at his night service in the evening. I still remember showing up sweaty with my game pants on and my cleats clicking the ground as I made my way through the doors to the church. God accepted me whether I was clean or not. He is right by my side each and every step of the way.”
That faith for Talanoa has been heavily shaped by his mother, Tanya. Tanya says faith became a priority for her as a new mother on a women’s bible retreat with her best friend. She says, “At the retreat I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior. I felt the never ending amazing love of God encompass me. I felt forgiven. I wanted that for my small family.” It soon became an important part of life for the Hufangas, and Tanya says it became a staple of Talanoa’s life, too. “On our way to a practice or sporting events, we would pray in the car as we drove. When the time came for Talanoa to drive, he would get up early to meet his Pastor for counsel or meet with a teammate for bible study. During high school he would lead his football team in prayer before the game in the locker room so it was not a surprise to me that during his first year of college he would come home to be baptized. He told me that he would only play football to glorify God and he was given the platform to share his faith.”
As Hufanga neared the end of his high school career, which included being named 2017 Polynesian Player of the Year and playing in the 2018 U.S. Army All-American Game, he chose to continue his career at The University of Southern California. Throughout his time there, Hufanga says making faith first has been a priority. “Without faith, there wouldn’t be football for me in this life. God has given me so much and he continues to bless me with opportunities at each part of my life. He is the one that makes football possible in my life. My belief is that football can influence faith, but for me it is the Word of God that helps me be the football player I am. Without His love, compassion, and strength instilled in my life I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
On December 30th, Talanoa Hufanga declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. As he readies himself for what the next stage of his life and career will bring, he remains focused on placing his trust in God regardless of the situation. Talanoa’s mother, Tanya, says that regardless of his on field performance, she is most proud of who he is away from the field. “I’m most proud of his commitment to God. God has blessed Talanoa with athletic talent, combined with his faith and hard work ethic he is able to excel.” With a strong faith by his side, Talanoa remains focused and confident that God has his future in His hands, and He is safe in that. Talanoa says, “Regardless of the situation, whether you are doing great in life or things are not in your favor, Faith in God is the most important thing. Giving him the glory for everything he has blessed you with is truly important. Amidst the craziness of a football season filled with challenges, I will never lose sight of the end goal. Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”