Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei, the Washington State nose tackle who came to the United States from Australia to chase a dream of playing college football, will have an opportunity to keep playing once tonight’s Cheez-It Bowl is over.
Aiolupotea-Pei accepted an invitation to the Jan. 26 Hula Bowl in Hawaii, where the senior will have an opportunity to play in front of NFL scouts and those from other professional leagues and potentially extend his playing career.
The senior all-star game, comprised of players from the United States, Australia and Japan, is making its return to Aloha Stadium in the Honolulu area after a 12-year absence. The game will take place one day after the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, and air on CBS Sports Network.
Aiolupotea-Pei, who has dual citizenship in New Zealand and Australia, wasn’t introduced to football until high school and played for the Gold Coast Stingrays in Australia before standing out in front of a few American coaches, including ex-Colorado/Boise State coach Dan Hawkins, who suggested he take his talents to the U.S.
The former rugby star moved to America to play for Riverside City College and signed with the Cougars in February of 2018 and carved out a rotational spot on WSU’s defensive line last season, registering 2½ sacks and seven tackles for the 11-win Cougars.
Aiolupotea-Pei opened this season as the starting nose tackle for WSU before relinquishing the job to Dallas Hobbs. He’s notched 15 tackles, three tackles-for-loss and 1½ sacks.
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