EXCLUSIVE: BoltBeat Interview- Tenny Palepoi :Undrafted and Underrated


Nov 23, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Tenny Palepoi (72) celebrates during the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Charger fans know defensive names such as Freeney, Ingram, Liuget, and Reyes, but what about Palepoi? Well if you haven’t been introduced to him, now’s your chance! This week I was able to sit down with undrafted Chargers defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi in an exclusive Bolt Beat interview.

Although most analysts had the former Utah Utes play-maker graded as a fifth to sixth round talent, Palepoi found himself without a call at the closure of the 2014 NFL draft. Shortly after, he received a call from San Diego to offer him a camp roster spot. Taking full advantage of the opportunity before him, Tenny made the active roster for 2014. Sporting #72 on his jersey and playing a rotational role, he has found a way to impact games despite limited action. He currently ranks fourth on the team with 4 tackles for loss, and is still seeking his first career sack in the NFL.

Unlike many rookies, his top priority is not the newest Benz, nor the new Jordan’s, but taking care of his family. He has two beautiful little ones, Taytum and Liam, and a wife Delaney. It’s great to see a rookie with such a level head and pure love for the game itself.

Oct 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Tenny Palepoi (72) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the bits and pieces of what you need to know about Tenny Palepoi:

1. What does it mean to you to make an NFL active roster despite going undrafted?

As soon as the draft ended and I got the offer from San Diego to come in as a free agent, I realized that my goal of playing in the NFL was still attainable. Being undrafted helped me realize how much love I actually have for the sport and gave me more motivation and drive. The day I got the call, I was really happy, but I knew that making the team was only the first goal. Everyday you have to prove your worth, and that’s when the real work comes in. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Playing my part on the team and busting my butt to keep my roster spot. I’m definitely proud of myself for making the team, but this is just the beginning.

2. What is your greatest motivation for the game?

My biggest motivation is my family. I have been blessed to come into the NFL with a beautiful family who have been the biggest support for me. My wife hasn’t missed a home game since we started dating 5 years ago at Snow College. Being able to financially support them and go to work each day playing the sport I love is a blessing.

3. With 4 tackles for loss already in limited action this season, how are you so successful at breaking through opposing lines?

Great coaching, I have had some question marks entering into the NFL and the biggest one was being able to hold up against the run. I have an incredible coach who harps on technique which has helped me better my game.

4. Who is the most influential teammate when it comes to your growth as a player both on and off the field?

Eric Weddle and Manti Teo have been my biggest influences on and off the field. Eric took me in under his wing right when I got here because we had that Utah connection. And Manti is my USO which means brother in Samoan. We connected right when I get here because we are so alike. They both have helped me make the transition from being a college player to being a professional a lot smoother.

5. Despite a hot start in 2014, the Chargers have now found themselves in a must win final two games. Has anything in the preparation changed?

We haven’t changed anything to our approach. We just know the importance of these next few weeks. Antonio Gates said it best, “playoffs start for us now”. Each week is a playoff game for us, if we win we advance and if we don’t we won’t move on.

6. Coach Pagano uses arguable more substitutions than any other coordinator in the league. What does this do for our defense?

It helps keep our defense fresh. When we substitute we are able to stay fresh and play fast. That way each one of us is able to give it 110 percent because we have someone else behind us who is ready to take you out and go just as hard.

7. What three attributes do you feel you specifically bring to the team?

Versatility, Maturity, Dependability

Quick hits:

Favorite NFL player of all time?

John Randle

Favorite off-day activity?

Hanging with the kids

Funniest guy on the Chargers roster?

Reggie Walker

Pick-6 or Strip sack fumble recovery?

Strip sack fumble recovery

Your choice to blind side sack any current NFL Quarterback?

I just want a sack it doesn’t matter who it is.

Fun fact nobody would guess about you?

Big fan of the movies twilight

Thank you Tenny for taking the time to let us get to know more about you and your journey to the NFL. We at Bolt Beat couldn’t be more excited for you and are anticipating many years of production from #72!

Also, today, December 19th is Tenny Palepoi’s birthday. Take a moment to wish him a very blessed and happy 24th birthday!