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Offseason | 2023

Fehoko Gained Inspiration From Vita Vea, Polamalu 


FRISCO, Texas -Flip on the tape of the Cowboys' fourth-round draft pick from this year's NFL Draft in Viliami Fehoko and you'll find a man dead set on getting to the quarterback by any means necessary, like a predator on the prowl. Then once you meet him in person and talk with him, the contrast could not be any more stark.

With last week's rookie mini-camp at The Star, it gave a majority of the rookies their first opportunity to speak with the media since they were drafted, and that included Fehoko who spoke glowingly about his family.

"I mean we're super excited," Fehoko said of being selected by the Cowboys. "First and foremost a blessing just to be in these shoes today. As a family, we came a long way from when I was a little kid. So just to see my dream come true after so many years of just putting my head down and working, it means everything to my family. 

"And I'm finally in this position, now I just have to keep working. Keep going."

Fehoko said that his family, all six sisters, half-brother, parents, and his "1,000 cousins" as he put it, have routinely bombarded him with FaceTime calls and asking for photos to see the facility and all of the amenities that are now at his disposal in an experience that Fehoko described as eye-opening for he and his family.

Of course, for as much as Fehoko talked about how much his family has meant to him up until this point, there is still plenty of potential that the Cowboys are banking on tapping into to add to their already vaunted pass rush from a season ago.

Fehoko played in four seasons at San Jose State, amassing 23 sacks, 190 tackles, 47 TFLs, five forced fumbles, and 11 pass deflections. In his final season with the Spartans, Fehoko found his way to being the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-Mountain West in conjunction with being named a second-team All-American.

Not to mention he shares the same family ties with one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL in Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea as a second cousin and looked up to Troy Polamalu as a role model from Polynesian descent. So, yes. The pedigree and the numbers all suggest just how high the ceiling is for Fehoko.

But where in the world does his aggressiveness and passion on the field derive from? You guessed it - family.

"Man my No. 1 motivation and inspiration has always been my family," Fehoko said. "Our journey as a family… Just coming from where we came from, all the obstacles we had to go through to get here. They're always in the back of my mind when I put my hand down or when I line up on that football field. I think of my mom, my new daughter… Family is everything to me."

Coming out of Saint Francis High School outside of Palo Alto, Calif. Fehoko has just two PAC-12 schools with offers on the table besides San Jose State and elected to pick the latter in order to stay closer to home. In his words, his mom would cry for days had he left her and moved further away.

"They were always in the corner of San Jose State Stadium every week," Fehoko said of his family. "So being able to look up every week and see [them] take up the whole top corner. I have like 1,000 cousins, 500 church members, everyone came out." 

Though the big question is will they do that again at AT&T Stadium this fall? There is little doubt in Fehoko's mind they will.

"Oh yeah. They'll probably take the top right corner again."

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