SOUTH BEND Tuli Amosa, the father of Notre Dame grad senior defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa Tua, died unexpectedly last week in Hawaii.
But on Monday, the first-year Notre Dame defensive coordinator learned what Tuli Amosa stood for and how deeply embedded that message was in Myron’s life.
After a week on Ewa Beach, Oahu, to grieve and respect the loss of the man who taught Myron about faith and football, Myron was due to rejoin his teammates at practice on Tuesday.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 13, 2021
Instead, he shocked Freeman Monday morning in full pads and uniform.
“He sprints on the field and then asks, ‘Coach, can I get into drills?’” Freeman said.
“‘Sure. Absolutely.’ Do you follow? It’s great. One, he’s an excellent footballer. His charisma is contagious. Captain. It’s fantastic to see him.”
He never fully left.
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While in Hawaii, Myron marveled at the progress made by his backups at strongside defensive end, NaNa Osafo-Mensah and Alexander Ehrensberger.
“They knew they had to step up when I left,” Myron said after practice on Tuesday.
He has also selected one of the seven 2021 Irish captains while away, connecting through FaceTime and being blown away by his teammates’ lei-wearing at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.
It was all to my dad, Myron assumed. “So when (head coach) Brian Kelly said it, it meant a lot.
“The Notre Dame family means a lot to me. As you can see, it has made me very happy.
“That’s why coming back was so easy. Just like that, day 10 of practice began. The lady welcomed me back with open arms.
And Myron, one of the Irish’s most transcendent players, smack in the midst.
Myron, a quarterback until his cousin, former Alabama standout and current Miami Dolphin Tua Tagovailoa, nudged him into a backup role in middle school, arrived at Notre Dame in the summer of 2017.
Myron, who was 6-3, 250 his senior year at Kapolei High, showed up at Notre Dame at 290 pounds. He never notified Mike Elston or Kelly about his plans to play end.
“I came in fat,” he said. “I saw my name on the depth chart at defensive tackle in fall camp. So I didn’t want to moan. I just thought, ‘The coaches needed me there, so I had to make a sacrifice.’
“I came in at 290.”
Myron stayed at 290, but not at defensive tackle. At 282 pounds, he made 17 tackles in 11 games, nine of which he started. COVID-19 prevented the team from playing Florida State on Oct. 10.
In 2020, six tackles resulted in 2.5 sacks. He also had two fumble recoveries, one forced, and two QB hurries.
Myron weighed 260 pounds on Tuesday, 8 pounds less than his Notre Dame roster weight at the start of training camp.
Amazing, he remarked. “I do feel lighter. “I feel energized.”
And stronger, more agile, and greater stamina. After training all summer with Notre Dame’s director of football performance Matt Balis, he thinks his power stats are up.
“I’ve been putting up numbers,” Myron added. “A lot of it is that this is my last year and I have to really push the limits and the bar.”
And it’s partly because he’s Tuli’s son and the late High Chief Seu Tagovailoa’s grandson.
Both had a big impact on Myron and his five siblings, especially when it came to faith in football and life.
Tuli and Sai Amosa co-pastored at Ewa Beach’s Message of Peace Ministry. Tuli also coached Myron in High Chief Tagovailoa’s youth football competition.
“Our students are genuinely trained with the mindset of conquerors,” Sai told the Tribune in 2017.
“We establish in our children that you can’t be ordinary, which is a Biblical component of it. You must be exceptional. We teach them that nothing is impossible.
Freeman learned that about Myron after the Hawaii product inquired about a defensive end switch. Until now, Freeman had no idea where that urge originated from or why it was so strong.
“I just knew he was a big football player. “Move to D-end!” yelled Freeman. “He shrank. He’s doing well. It’s great. Move him inside or outside immediately. You can do more with him than just end him.
“Hopefully he can show the NFL. Also for him. We have a lot of options up front, which I like (with multiple fronts).
“You don’t just sit and play nose or end. You move. You’re doing odd stuff. Because we’re so adaptable on defense and in our scheme, I believe you can move individuals around.”
You don’t do anything without faith in Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.
“I knew my purpose from the start,” he remarked. “As a Christian, I realized my role was to use my platform to praise Jesus. My father’s death only adds to my motivation, my need to be here.
“I have to push what he told me to. To push out what I wanted to put out — that I had a mission in this world. And to preach the Gospel wherever I go.
“Since he can’t be here for my season and the rest of my life, I just accept that I must carry on his legacy.”