Biography of a Jet #2: Sione Pouha

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11: Sione Pouha #91 of the New York Jets reacts against the Minnesota Vikings at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 11, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

GGN presents to you profiles of Jets players both past and present. This week we alternate to someone on the current roster, for a few more days at least, Sione Pouha (pronounced see-oh-nee boh-oo-hə).

The Jets are currently at a crossroads with Pouha. The 33 year old 6'3 325lb Nose Tackle from Utah has had a great season while acting as the bedrock for the Jets defense. Sources say Pouha will not receive the retooled franchise tag, which still would have cost a pretty penny if applied. A hungry market awaits Pouha, and after this season the Jets may not be willing or able to accommodate his salary, which is unfortunate. His age begins to play a factor in resigning Pouha as he pushes closer to 35 and beyond.

Not all hope is lost for Pouha fans, although from what I have read a significant portion of you believe Kenrick Ellis will be acquitted and annihilate opposing offenses just by taking the field. Sources including SBN NY and Vrentas think that the Jets will prioritize re-signing Pouha and navigate the cap situation by offering a multi-year extension. It's worth noting that PFF ranked Pouha as 2nd Nose Tackle both against the run and overall.

Read about the life and times of Sione Pouha after the jump. In the meantime, feel free to post your comments about Pouha. This is more about getting to know players as individuals, but you're more than welcome to post whether or not you want him back, etc.

Born Sione Sonasi "Bo" Pouha in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 3rd, 1979 to Tongan immigrant parents Sonasi and Susana Pouha; Sione has always been a rather large guy who played football from a very young age. A practicing Mormon, Pouha spent his childhood and college years in Utah. Sione attended East High School in SLC, the location where most of the High School Musical films were shot.

Pouha received local and national media recognition on numerous occasions for his outstanding performances at the high school level before eventually signing his letter for the University of Utah (often referred to simply as Utah). Despite attending the public and much more secular State University (read up on BYU's honor code), Sione did not neglect his faith in any manner of speaking. Pouha moved to the Pittsburgh metro area for two years and performed missionary work for the Church of LDS by knocking on doors and engaging people in religious and philosophical discussions after studying scriptures for several hours every single day. This is very common for practicing Mormons, and you may have encountered decidedly less famous LDS members in your town asking to talk to you about the great big question. I can only imagine what it's like being approached by an imposing and large framed man like Pouha and being engaged in spiritual discussions, it seems surreal to think about.

Not until his missionary work was completed did Pouha return to play football for Utah. This is what people are referring to when they call Pouha a late arrival or bloomer. A behavioral science and health major, Pouha had a pretty quiet college career until his senior year where he had a breakout year and drew the attention of NFL agents and scouts. Pouha performed well up to and including the Fiesta Bowl, earning recognition from USA Today for his college career almost a full decade after honoring him as a high school athlete.

Up until late in his last college season when he was noticed, Pouha had never considered playing football professionally. A solicitation from a sports agent led Pouha to enter the draft pool. In 2005, The Jets selected Sione Pouha 88th overall in the third round. Widely considered a project player, Sione performed nominally when called upon. And in 2006 Pouha suffered a season ending ACL tear in the middle of training camp. At that point it looked unlikely that Pouha would ever contribute significantly to the Jets.

That was seemingly his floor, as Sione returned in 2007 and never missed another game again. In fact, Pouha is perhaps most famous as being the man who effectively took over for Kris Jenkins two years in a row so well that he could arguably be called an upgrade over the talented but aging and oft-injured Jenkins. As the defense transitioned from Jenkins to Pouha, the run defense went from being ranked 21st all the way to 4th best. Pouha, at least for the very near future, is the Jets standout Nose Tackle. Over his 7 year career, Pouha amassed 234 tackles (173 solo and 81 assisted) 3 and a half sacks, 1 forced fumble, 5 fumble recoveries; 9 defended passes and 9 stuffs for 15 yards. Full disclosure: Nearly a third of that production came last year, across the board.

Pouha is plenty busy off the field too. He has four children, two sons and two daughters, with his wife whom he met at the U of Utah. Pouha has started a Kava and Venetian root based "relaxation drink" brand called Bula, which he refers to as the opposite of energy drinks. Sione also documented surviving the lockout on YouTube for fans, and is referred to by teammate Nick Mangold as the teams "Biggest Eater".

Perhaps the biggest lesson Jets fans can take from the career of Sione Pouha is that many project and mid-round players can grow into superstars given the slightest and most unforeseen holes of opportunity. Pouha is probably the most shining example of what can be molded from raw home grown talent.

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