LAWRENCE, Kan. — Life is good these days for Kansas linebacker Samson Faifili.
He started his first game for the Jayhawks last Saturday against South Dakota, making four tackles in a 31-14 season-opening victory. He’s on scholarship, playing football at the Division I level and, most important, doesn’t have to worry about pinching pennies.
That wasn’t always the case.
Faifili grew up in Hawaii but moved to Utah when he was 13. After he graduated from high school, Faifili took a year off from school and moved again, this time to Sacramento, Calif. He eventually enrolled at American River College, but his first five months were about survival.
“When I got to California all I had was $200 to last me a few months,” Faifili recalled this week. “(I was) skipping meals and drinking lots of water.”
When he enrolled in school, Faifili didn’t have residency for the first three semesters, so he had to pay out-of-state tuition — about $5,000 that he had to cobble together.
So, yes, he’s loving life at Kansas, where he’s on scholarship and the school provides his meals.
But how did a kid from in Hawaii end up here after stops in Utah and California? Partially because of Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o, Faifili’s cousin.
Te’o played for current Kansas coach Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.
“He did talk to me about coming here, what kind of coach Coach Weis is,” Faifili said. “He trusts coach. That played a little part of me coming here.”