A short athlete profile of Tongan TE Devin Mahina of Upland HS (CA).
Then: Mahina moved with his family from Tonga to the U.S. when he was a baby. Tall for his age, he began playing youth football at age 8. He played lower-level football as a 6-foot-4 freshman, when he began lining up at tight end full time. Mahina joined the varsity his sophomore year, during which he had two sacks and caught five passes, including one for a touchdown. He spent his junior season playing in a double-tight-end set with John Reese, now a freshman at Oregon State. Although he was somewhat overshadowed by Reese, that didn't prevent Brigham Young from offering a scholarship last winter. Schools such as Colorado, Arizona, Washington State, Oregon and UCLA followed suit.
Now: Mahina, now 6-6 and 225 pounds, has emerged as the cornerstone of one of Upland's best teams in years. The Highlanders opened their season in impressive fashion last Friday, defeating visiting Covina Charter Oak, 38-14. The Chargers were ranked No. 2 in the San Gabriel Valley by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Working primarily as a decoy on offense, Mahina caught only one pass. Mahina, who also plays basketball to help with his conditioning and footwork, developed another talent over the summer — the ukulele.
Quote: "I came home and picked it right back up," said Mahina, who was inspired during a trip to Tonga with his family. "It's like the guitar, just four strings instead of six."