After each game the past two seasons, Jahlani Tavai would emerge from the postgame locker room and answer questions, any questions. Sometimes he would speak with a group of reporters, sometimes just one. Often he still would be wearing the white long-sleeved Under Armour shirt stained with the game’s wear and tear.
Tavai was a leader in offseason conditioning (sometimes brining the water cooler), in practices, in games, and after games. He took the blame for losses and gave credit to everyone except himself for victories.
Yesterday, Nick Rolovich confirmed what had been probable for two weeks, that Tavai’s season was over because of a shoulder injury.
It is unfortunate his UH story did not have a proper farewell. Instead, we are left with his legacy of being in places that needed filling. That was apparent in the last game of his freshman season, in 2015. Rigo Sanchez was unavailable because of an illness in the family. Tavai, an accomplished rugby player, replaced Sanchez as punter. Tavai averaged 54.0 yards on two punts.