• Jamie Oakes-wahoos247 @ 247sports.com

#StraightFromTheBush : After two-year mission, Wayne Taulapapa is ready for UVA


Honolulu (Hi.) Punahou running back Wayne Taulapapa signed with Virginia as a part of the 2016 recruiting class.

The 5-foot-11, 202-pound tailback knew at the time he had a much greater calling in the short-term to serve his faith and go on a two-year mission to Nicaragua before attending UVA and continuing his football career.

“I plan on serving a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints,” said Taulapapa before departing for his LDS mission in 2016. “God has blessed me with so much and allowed me so many opportunities that I want to be able to do my part in serving him.

“Being away from football will be tough but putting God first is always more important. I will be back to make my name known in two years.”

Mission complete, Taulapapa will enroll at UVA on Tuesday. In Nicaragua, he had a purpose much bigger than football, although he found time to attempt to stay conditioned. It wasn’t easy, however.

“As a missionary, we had no time to really work out in a weight room, or with any specific training due to the schedule of finding, teaching and helping others learn more of Christ, but I made extra time waking up earlier every day and staying up later at night doing house exercises.

“Within my first month out, I bought a jump rope and family members sent me ladders and workout bands and with that every day, I consistently did house workouts.”

Body weight exercises and resistance training soon was coupled with ingenuity to make homemade weights for added training.

“Push-ups and sit-ups with the workout material I was given (concrete weights, milk jugs, wooden bars) played a huge role in me keeping weight and staying in some type of shape. Being in Nicaragua, there wasn’t much to work with but made the best of everything I had.”

Ahead of his arrival in Charlottesville, Taulapapa knows he has ground to make up, but he’s looking forward to the challenge, keeping in mind that he has to be smart about his re-acclimation to football and weight training.

“I do understand that I am not as strong as my teammates are, due to the fact that I have not seen a weight room in two years, but the consistency throughout the mission allowed me to stay in some form of shape.

“Now, I just have to make the transition and be smart about going into the actual Virginia workouts.”

Through it all, his passion for football only grew. Taulapapa said it’s impossible to describe his feelings ahead of his arrival at UVA.

“I am really excited, honestly. Getting back to the game I love after two years is something indescribable.

“I know it’ll be tough, but it’s a blessing to go back to the passion. Whatever way I can contribute to the team, I’m up for it.”

Over the course of his three years starting at Punahou, the 5-foot-11, 202-pounder rushed for 3,279 yards and 52 touchdowns.

Taulapapa was rated three-stars according to 247Sports Composite. He and the rest of the 2018 class (with the exception of the four players that enrolled in January) will begin their careers at UVA together starting this week.

After two-year mission, Wayne Taulapapa is ready for UVA

#WayneTaulapapa

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