Iupati an Outland Trophy finalist
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 11/23/2009
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University of Idaho senior guard Mike Iupati is one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, which honors college football's most outstanding interior lineman.

Iupati, 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, has been the leader of the Vandal offensive line this fall as Idaho is enjoying its best season in a decade.

"He's a big strong man, who has great athletic ability," coach Robb Akey said. "He has the ability to move, the ability to run. He's physical at the point of attack. He also does a lot of good things as he's pulling. He can handle guys out in space. His athleticism combined with his size make him a special player."

There's more to Iupati, who came to Idaho from Western High School at Anaheim, Calif., but who grew up in American Samoa.

"He hasn't been in the United States all that long," said Akey of Iupati, whose family moved to the United States when he was 14. "He just started playing football when he was in high school."

Prior to the season, Iupati was voted as the Vandals' offensive captain.

"He's a first-class young man," Akey said. "He was elected team captain by his teammates for a reason."

Iupati is joined as a finalist by Oklahoma State's Russell Okung and Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh.

The Outland Trophy first was awarded in 1946 and is named to honor Pennsylvania's John Outland, one of only a few players in history to be chosen All-America at two positions. He was a consensus All-America in 1898 at tackle and a consensus All-America at back in 1899.

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