Elvis Kamana-Matagi's statistics - one assisted tackle in nine games for Utah State- hardly jump off the page.
His story, however, certainly does.
Thirty-eight days after he signed with the Aggies - "March 13, 2010" rolls off his tongue like it's his birthday - the King Kekaulike High School graduate was shot in the foot during a dispute involving a young cousin and neighbors, shattering his right big toe.
Elvis Kamana-Matagi, Utah State’s starting noseguard since the Aggies’ third game of the season, has helped the team to an 8-2 record.
Ryan Talbot, Utah State University Athletics photographer photo
"There was just some trouble Upcountry," he said via phone after practice Wednesday.
"The doctor said I would probably never walk again, but like I said, I was blessed. Football is what I do best and I already had a scholarship and I almost lost it all."
The only Bowl Subdivision scholarship player ever from King Kekaulike, Kamana-Matagi has helped Utah State to an 8-2 overall record this year - the Aggies are 4-0 in the Western Athletic Conference in the league's last season of football.
Utah State's losses have been close - 16-14 at Wisconsin and 6-3 at Brigham Young - and the team has a virtual WAC championship game at Louisiana Tech on Nov. 17.
Kamana-Matagi has been the starting noseguard since Sept. 15, when he took over that spot in the third game of the season in front of 79,332 fans at Camp-Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
"I made some mistakes, but I learned from them," he said. "I honestly wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here at Utah State."
None of Kamana-Matagi's numbers include an important statistic: One huge lesson under his belt.
"It taught me a lot," he said of the shooting incident. "I don't take nothing for granted no more. I'm not saying that it was a good thing that it happened, but since it did happen I learned from it, big-time. I am the same person, I just don't make stupid mistakes."
Kamana-Matagi left Pukalani at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, and now measures 6-3, 290.
"It's great to be starting as a sophomore, I worked hard for it and I have great friends and teammates who have helped me get this far," he said.
He also said he feels a sense of pride and responsibility from the role he has earned.
"I have to," he said. "The same way for me, there was no one really from Upcountry. I mean, not too many boys ever from Maui go D-I. Only guys like Kaluka (Maiava) and Kai (Maiava). So for me going, that is a big deal because there is a lot of talent from Upcountry Maui, you know, all over Maui, but we are just underexposed. For me to go D-I from King K, it makes a big difference so other kids can go, too."
If a conference championship ring arrives, Kamana-Matagi said he will give it to his father, Elvis Matagi Sr.
"It would mean a lot to me, more than a bowl game, really. That's a conference championship," said Kamana-Matagi, who speaks with his mother, Yasmin Kamana, "every single night from Maui."
Utah State defensive line coach Frank Maile marvels at Kamana-Matagi's progress.
Kamana-Matagi was recruited by former Baldwin coach and player Chad Kauhaahaa, who is now on the Utah staff.
"I challenged him last year to get himself ready because that (noseguard) spot would be available," Maile said. "I needed Elvis on the field, that is why we recruited him. He has sacrificed his body and that is what we ask our noseguards to do: occupy blocks for our outside linebacker to get over the top. He is the key guy there in the middle."
Maile said that Kamana-Matagi's responsibility goes beyond the football field.
"I don't know if he fully understands, but everybody back home watches him, his every move," said Maile, a Utah native. "What he does on and off the field reflects who he is. He has done a great job being a great example for the kids back home, and I couldn't be more proud of him for doing so."
Kamana-Matagi redshirted as a true freshman when the Aggies went 4-8, and saw limited playing time last season when they were 8-6 and lost to Ohio in the Potato Bowl.
"Honestly, last year was the first time I felt like I was 100 percent again," Kamana-Matagi said. "They had to put a pin and a plate in there. I had a hard time running, I still do because of my balance. I have gotten used to it and I have orthotics in my shoe to help me. I'm fine, I still actually have a lot of power, I can push off of it. Late at night, sometimes when it gets cold, it just hurts, but I'm getting used to it. I still have shrapnel in my foot."
The feeling he gets when he runs onto the field is like none other.
"In front of thousands and thousands of fans, you know, I get the shivers," he said. "But it feels good, it is a good chicken-skin. It feels real good. To me, that's the best feeling in the world. That is why I play the sport of football."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org