All's well that end's well

All's well that end's well

After working at both the defensive tackle and defensive end positions during fall camp, Tyson Alualu was listed as the first-string defensive end on Monday's depth chart and is a likely starter for Saturday's game against Tennessee. For Alualu, after a year of playing defensive tackle, it's a return to the position where he starred in high school.

Alualu liked the chance at playing both positions, having the opportunity to draw from his recent experience as well as unleash an array of pass rush maneuvers from both spots on the line.

"It's been all right," said Alualu, who played in all 13 games last year and started against Oregon State. "The coaches were trying to see where I fit best. Defensive tackle is much more physical to play.  At the end, you can rely more on speed and using different rush moves."

Alualu, who had to adjust to playing defensive tackle last season, has been versatile enough to be used at different places along the line as the coaches look for ways to best use Cody Jones and Tad Smith in the rotation.

"I only played end in high school," said Alualu, who was named the Interscholastic League of Hawaii's 2005 Defensive Player of the Year while playing for Honolulu's St. Louis High.  "I took a year off, came back here in the spring and weighed 315 and they moved me to defensive tackle.  It was pretty rough at first."

With his added weight, he needed to modify his skill set and he drew from the experience of two incumbent linemen.

"Moving inside, I needed to be able to pick up my strength," said Alualu, who had a career-best six tackles against UCLA last year. "I learned a lot from watching (Brandon) Mebane and (Abu) Ma'afala last season, and it helped me to pick things up right away."

With Mebane and Ma'afala completing their eligibility last season, there were going to be openings for the starting defensive tackle positions, but Alualu wanted to get back into a position where he could play defensive end. Part of that work involved losing some weight and working on conditioning.

"I did a lot more running and a lot more work in the weight room," said Alualu, who hopes to play in the 280s this season. 

With Alualu, Mika Kane, Rulon Davis, Smith, and Jones all pushing to join Matt Malele on the defensive line, the teamwork's been strong throughout fall camp.

"It's good. We've got each other's back," said Alualu, who's listed in the most current depth chart as defensive end opposite Davis, with Malele and Kane as the first-string defensive tackles. "We're all competitive and it helps us get the best people out there."

And if anybody was wondering, Alualu, who was born in 1987 was indeed named after the then-reigning world heavyweight boxing champion.

"I was named after Mike Tyson," said Alualu, who was too young to have watched Tyson fight in his pay-per-view prime. "He was my dad's favorite fighter. I've seen a lot his fights on video. He's tough."

Alualu is part of a growing contingent of Hawaiian players at Cal, something that helps not just Alualu but also the new players coming to campus.

"It feels way better," said Alualu, who can often be seen sitting together with fellow 50th staters Mika Kane, Solomon Aigamaua, Scott Smith, Savai'i Eselu in the stands after practice for a brief moment before heading back to the locker room.    "It's had a pretty big impact having other people from Hawaii here. When I decided to come here, Mika (Kane) was coming too. Abu was already here, and now we've got a whole bunch of freshmen and I'm really happy they're here."

With Hawaii Five-O having been off the air for decades, Hawaiian students at Cal no longer have to hear "Book 'em, Dan-O" on a much-too-often basis. However, that doesn't stop Alualu from repeatedly being asked another question once people find out where he's from.

"They always ask if I surf," said Alualu, who can occasionally be seen at one of the many Bay Area L&L Hawaiian Barbecue locations to get his plate lunch fix. "A lot of people in Hawaii don't surf."

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