February 10, 2011

Army Black Knight Fans: Meet DT, Tala Atimalala

They say you can judge a person by the company he keeps, and it doesn't take long to discover how good a football player and how good a person Tala Atimalala is.

The Army Black Knight commit, who will attend USMAPS, was also recruited by BYU and Oregon State. So it comes as no surprise as to why the 6-foot, 275 defensive tackle has the Army football staff excited.

As to his character, one only has to listen to him speak about his father, who has been in the Army reserve the past 12 years and has had a tour in Iraq.

"My father has had the biggest impact on my life, all the way,'' Atimalala said via phone from his home in Las Vegas. "Ever since I was little he disciplined me. He told me to respect my elders, show good character and let others know you're a good kid; to respect everybody.

"In football and especially in the class room, he always pushed me to be better than everyone else. That's what it is right there.''

Atimalala is one of five children, with two brothers and two sisters. Both his sisters attend UNLV, the youngest of whom is a ROTC cadet.

While he is looking forward to playing football as a Black Knight, he is also looking forward on embarking on a career that he hopes will lead him to being an orthopedic surgeon.

First and foremost of course will be his five-year post-grad commitment. "I want to serve my country, I want to help people,'' he said. "I like to help people. Some people in my family have had a hard time with their health. When I started to study anatomy and physiology and learned about the body and how it functions, I became interested.''

He has his own web site, on which he says, "Talofa, Hello! (He was born in Hawaii where he lived until age 7) As a student-athlete strongly focused on academic excellence, I am also striving to pursue my desire of a college education and playing football at the collegiate level. With constant dedication, self-discipline and prayer I aspire to fulfill these goals.''

The choice to attend West Point was not a difficult one for him. He knew he wanted to come east before his official visit. "I loved it,'' he said about the campus, the facilities and the atmosphere. "It's really different. And I knew that after graduation I would be set for life.''

Life as a football player has been quite successful. He's been a two-time all-region DT, was all-conference at that position and for two seasons was second-team all-conference at center.

As a sophomore he was his conference's Defensive Lineman MVP.

He played both ways in high school, center and guard on offense, but definitely prefers the defensive side of the ball. "I'm aggressive, tough, fast off the ball, and quick,'' he said in response to being asked for a self-evaluation. "I love tackling running backs and quarterbacks. I love to hit.''

He is certainly a big hit with the Army coaching staff. Judging from his background, there is little reason to think that will not continue.

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