Football

‘Loyal to my soil’ – star lineman stays at Santa Clara High, will play at USC next fall

SANTA CLARA – Amos Talalele towers over defenders he pancakes into the ground on run plays and overshadows pass rushers who try to swim around his massive frame.

The senior tackle is 6-foot-4, weighs 330 pounds and would probably start on any offensive line in the Bay Area.

The USC commit attends Santa Clara, which is a few miles from the city’s perennial powerhouse, Wilcox, and close to some of the West Catholic Athletic League’s top programs.

But Talalele didn’t test temptation.

“Yeah, I was thinking about Wilcox because they’re a powerhouse team and they make a run at a state every year,” Talalele said. “But you know what, I’m loyal to my soil. I’ve put a lot into this team.”

Santa Clara hasn’t had a winning season since 2018. The Bruins went 4-6 in 2019, 1-4 in the pandemic-shortened spring 2021 season and 3-6-1 last fall under then-first-year coach Andrew Calderon.

They are 2-5 now.

“He thought about leaving after his junior year, and thankfully he decided to stay,” Calderon said. “I think he was looking for an easier route, but he changed his mind. He knows me, and I’ve known the family for years. He also has all of his friends here.”

Talalele heard whispers about possibly having an opportunity to finish his high school career elsewhere, including in Southern California.

As Talalele put it, he remained loyal to his soil.

“Amos has always loved the Bruins, and he wanted to stay loyal and stay here,” said his mother, Tracy Talalele.

At Santa Clara, Talalele has worked under the eye of line coach Malik Washington, a Santa Clara alum who played at Foothill College and Faulkner University in Alabama.

“He worked so hard over the summer, and Amos would call me up and ask if we could get some extra work in,” Washington said. “I was so excited for him when he was offered by USC since it’s been a while since someone from Santa Clara got a D-I scholarship. To see Santa Clara put on the map, it’s awesome.”

Santa Clara's Amos Talalele (75) stands among his teammates before a high school football game against King's Academy in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)Santa Clara’s Amos Talalele (75) stands among his teammates before a high school football game against King’s Academy in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

Committing to USC was an easy choice for Talalele. He is a huge fan of former USC and Pittsburgh Steelers star safety Troy Polamalu and knows the history of the Trojans program.

“Ah man, that was a dream school for me and a lot of people,” Talalele said. “To play in the LA Coliseum, it’s so iconic. And there’s so many Polynesian stars that have gone through there like Troy Polamalu.”

The high-profile commitment hasn’t changed Talalele, his coaches say. They raved about how their big guy has maintained humility, something instilled in him from his upbringing.

“We try to keep him level-headed and help him stay humble,” said Talalele’s father, Olsen. “It’s in our culture, too. We’ll whoop your butt if you don’t stay in line.”

Talalele said that one of the best things to come from having the USC offer is that it draws more attention to his high school teammates.

“We’re not known as a powerhouse football team, but I still got an offer from USC,” Talalele said. “It doesn’t matter where you go. If you can ball, then you’re a baller and people will notice you. I feel like this year people need to come out and watch our line. We’re physical and we’re hitting, and we’re having good games.”

Santa Clara's Amos Talalele (75) takes a rest on the bench during a high school football game against King's Academy in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)Santa Clara’s Amos Talalele (75) takes a rest on the bench during a high school football game against King’s Academy in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 
Santa Clara's Amos Talalele (75) stands on the sidelines during a high school football game against King's Academy in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)Santa Clara’s Amos Talalele (75) stands on the sidelines during a high school football game against King’s Academy in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

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