• Andrew Lopez @ NOLA.com

@breidenfehoko4 #StraightFromTheBush : 'Fresh start' at LSU keeps Breiden Fehoko's passi


(Photo by Brett Duke, NOLA.com)

Breiden Fehoko came to LSU because he wanted a fresh start with a sport that he has loved since he was young enough to still be sleeping with stuffed animals. Younger, actually. When the now 6-foot-4, 291-pound defensive lineman was 3 years old he slept with a football in his toddler bed. By age 4, he attended his older brother's practices. And by 5, he asked team athletic trainers to put so much tape on his shoes that his mother secretly chipped into the school budget to pay for the supplies he used. "To his day, he doesn't know I bought the tape," she said. By age 6, he had the chance to wear the shoulder pads and helmet of an actual NFL player when he and his father went to Baltimore for a Polynesian luau for former Baltimore Ravens guard Ed Mulitalo. Fehoko tried on an NFL helmet and when he took it off, he cried when his dad said he couldn't take it home with him. His love of football runs deep, which made the decision nearly two years ago so difficult.

Amos Morale III

He had arrived at Texas Tech as a high school All-American and started 25 games at the school when he decided to transfer out of the Red Raider program.

He wanted the better position himself so that he could have what he thought would be a brighter future in the sport he loved.

"The best place possible" was where he wanted to be.

He chose LSU.

Now, after sitting out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, he'll be back in the same stadium where he played his final game with Texas Tech.

LSU opens the season Sunday (Sept. 2) against Miami at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. He last played a college football game in 2016 with Texas Tech against Baylor.

Fehoko is an expected starter for the game against Miami, but it didn't always appear that way.

Christa Moran

Devin White, an unquestioned leader on the LSU defense as a middle linebacker, said Fehoko during the spring appeared to be "slacking," he said.

But once Neil Farrell moved ahead of him and put Fehoko on the second team during drills, something snapped inside him.

"He woke up and was like, 'I need to get on my stuff,'" White said. "In fall camp, he came with a different attitude and really balled out."

His coach noticed. Ed Orgeron said Fehoko was working his game "seven days a week" during the summer and returned for preseason practices in much better condition.

At that point, Orgeron asked Fehoko to make a position switch from defensive end to nose tackle. The coach told him to think about it, so he did.

"As I thought about it, it was nothing different than what I've been learning," he said. "I trusted him and ran with it."

Defensive end Rashard Lawrence said Fehoko has committed himself to becoming the best possible nose tackle and said he's now the best one LSU has on the roster.

"You watch him on film and you can't do nothing but respect a guy like that who practices the way he does," Lawrence said. "That's it, his work ethic."

(Photo by Brett Duke, NOLA.com |

It's the work ethic Fehoko has shown in fall camp that has made him into one of the leaders of the 2018 squad despite never playing a down in the purple and gold.

Fehoko is a member of LSU football's leadership council. Heʻs a part of that leadership council, White said, because he owned up to his own mistakes in the spring and improved during the summer.

"Guys gravitate toward that," White said. "Especially when you fix yourself before you get on other people."

Fehoko's mother, Linda, said her son always tried to be a leader. Some of that came from watching his other college football-playing brothers -- Whitley at San Diego State, Sam at Texas Tech and V.J. at Utah and Texas Tech.

Fehoko said that leadership -- the actions-speak-louder-than-words kind -- was something he learned from his parents.

"I just try to make sure my teammates see me as a guy that they can call at 12 o'clock at night saying my car broke down," Fehoko said. "I want to be that type of guy. That's how you build leadership."

White said that even though Fehoko hasn't played a down for LSU yet, his teammates know what he brings.

He brings intensity. One day after he missed a week of practice with a minor injury, the day he was allowed back on the practice field he put on his padded practice pants four hours before workouts started.

"He's very motivated," said Jonathan Giles, another Texas Tech transfer who made his move at around the same time as Fehoko. "You can tell. When I talk to him at night or we go out to eat, we talk about football 24-7. I can't wait to watch him in that first game."

Neither can Fehoko's parents. They arrived Friday in Dallas. They'll be in the stadium Sunday, happy to see their boy playing the sport he's loved.

Linda and Vili also can't wait to watch their youngest play again. They arrived in Dallas on Friday and will be among the loudest LSU fans on Sunday night.

Vili thinks he knows why Fehoko will have a good game in first action since 2016.

"One thing about Breiden, when he's happy, everything is going to turn upside down in the football game," Vili said.

"At Texas Tech, he wasn't happy. He was looking for a place to be happy and he found it at LSU."

The Fehoko family

Brieden at 3 years old and 18 years old

The Fehoko family

Breiden at 4 years old at NFL Pro Bowl

The Fehoko family

Breiden sporting his older brother's football gear

The Fehoko family

Breiden at 6 years old with brother V.J. at Ravens facility

The Fehoko family

Breiden at 3 years old wearing his older brother's pads

'Fresh start' at LSU keeps Breiden Fehoko's passion for football going strong

#BreidenFehoko

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