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The home for coverage of all FHC athletics

FHC Sports Report

The home for coverage of all FHC athletics

FHC Sports Report

Underrated Athletes – Puka Nacua

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CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 25: Puka Nacua #17 of the Los Angeles Rams looks on from the sideline prior to at Paycor Stadium on September 25, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

You may have heard of the name Puka Nacua being spoken of in the world of professional football. While most people might focus on the uniqueness of his name, his extraordinary talent seems to go under the radar.

A lot of people—including myself—don’t really pay that close attention to high school players because of the preconception that stats don’t mean anything in high school. Nacua is one exception that is certainly proving many people wrong. Nacua attended Orem High School from 2015 until 2019, where he played football for all of his four years. He was an incredible young star and ended with 5,226 receiving yards and 58 receiving touchdowns. Both of these statistics smashing Utah state records.

I never really knew about Nacua during his college career. Sure, I probably heard his name here and there, but I was oblivious to just how good he was. Nacua began his college career at the University of Washington, where he had high hopes to begin a successful career and eventually make it to the league. Unfortunately for him, however, after the first eight weeks of his freshman year and totaling a mere 168 yards and two touchdowns, he broke his foot. While he hoped to make things better the next year, his season was cut short due to the COVID-19 virus and the repercussions that followed. He ended his sophomore year with only 151 yards between 9 receptions and only one touchdown. At the end of the season, he entered the NCAA transfer portal.

In 2021, Nacua transferred to Brigham Young University (BYU) and was off to a new start with great aspirations to prove himself as a star. He did just that. In his first season with the new team, Nacua had caught 40 passes for an astonishing 805 yards and six touchdowns. That’s over 20 yards per reception. His senior season wasn’t much different, with him scoring another 625 receiving yards and five touchdowns to add to his accolades.

Nacua had great new-found confidence following his college career and took it into the NFL draft. He was drafted late in the 5th round to the Los Angeles Rams.

While I had seen him in the draft, there were loads of things I never even knew about him. One thing I never knew was that his name wasn’t actually Puka. Makea “Puka” Nacua was born May 29th, 2001, in Provo, Utah. Even though his birth name was Makea, he acquired the nickname  “Puka” shortly after birth. Nacua was born of Samoan, Hawaiian, and Portuguese descent to Lionel Nacua and Penina Nacua and was bestowed the name “Puka”— which means fat and chubby in Samoan—due to his above-average size as a baby. This news was shocking to me because the name doesn’t exactly fit a star athlete.

Nacua made his NFL debut earlier this fall in a tough game against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle was a heavy favorite in this game because of an injured Cooper Kupp on the Ram’s side. Kupp—being the Rams’ star receiver—led to big shoes for Nacua to fill in this opening game, and the pressure was on. Puka never let it get to him, though. Nacua went on to be a crucial player in the brutal 30-13 victory over the Seahawks. He not only filled Kupp’s position, he totaled 119 yards through 10 receptions with a total of 15 targets.

Nacua didn’t stop after week one. He was even more impressive in week 2. In a game against potentially the best defense in the NFL, Puka hoarded 15 receptions for 147 yards. Unfortunately for Nacua, they lost in a close one, 30-23, against the San Francisco 49ers. Even with the loss, Nacua was not left unnoticed. He had over 30 fantasy PPR points and left fantasy owners in shock. He made a statement that week and made football fans everywhere recognize just how much of a talent he truly is.

While his week two performance was his first eye-opener in the league, he didn’t slow down by any means. As of now, he’s averaged almost 100 yards per game, over 19 fantasy points every week, and is targeted over ten times per game. These stats would be impressive for any veteran, let alone a rookie going on his 9th game in the league. So far, I’ve traded for him in multiple fantasy leagues, and week after week, he is one of my best players. This type of consistency doesn’t come often, and it’s a sign that he’s a real talent. Ever since college, he’s been incredibly impressive, and now, coming into the NFL, he hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down. He’s an athlete worth way more than just a funny nickname, and in the near future, he is someone I firmly believe will be in conversation for one of the best players in the NFL.

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About the Contributor
Colton is a sophomore at Forest Hills Central High School. This is his first year on the FHC Sports Report staff and is excited to start diving deeper into his knowledge of sports in the form of writing and journalism. Currently, he's on the FHC soccer team but has been involved in many other sports when he was younger. Apart from soccer, Colton has played football, basketball, swimming, baseball, track, and golf so his knowledge of sports is very extensive. Apart from sports, Colton enjoys hanging out with friends and watching movies. Favorite food is: Fettuccini Alfredo Favorite Sport is: Soccer Favorite Artist is: Kanye West Favorite Animal is: Dogs

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