Family Ties

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Marques Tuiasosopo knows a lot about expectations. On any given Sunday, Washington's star quarterback need only turn on his television set to be reminded of his prominent Husky lineage.

There's Mark Brunell in Jacksonville, Chris Chandler in Atlanta, Damon Huard in Miami - even the ageless Warren Moon in Kansas City.

Then there's Manu and Jesse.

Manu Tuiasosopo and Jesse Sapolu aren't household names like Tuiasosopo's predecessors at Washington.

But for 21-year-old Marques, his father and cousin have as much to do with his success as anything.

"My parents introduced sports to us when we were young," Marques says. "They wanted us to be involved, but it was up to us what to play."

Manu played football and played it well. The elder Tuiasosopo earned his reputation as a defensive lineman at UCLA in the late 1970s. A first-team All-Pac-10 lineman for three straight seasons, he went on to play eight productive seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Sapolo and nine other cousins also played football. Sapolo first played at Hawaii, and then for 13 years in the NFL. Sister Leslie played volleyball for Washington from 1995-98.

But Marques wasn't sure what sport he wanted to play - so he played them all, basketball, football, baseball and soccer.

In fact, Marques played baseball so well he was selected in the 28th round of the major league draft by the Minnesota Twins.

It wasn't until he was offered a scholarship by Washington during his senior year of high school that Marques decided - like his father and others before him - that football was the right sport for him.

"I love the game of football," Marques says. "It's a physical game with a group of guys going out with the same goal - it's the ultimate team sport."

It's also the sport that has allowed Marques the most growth as a player. Since spending his first two seasons with the Huskies playing behind Brock Huard, Marques emerged last year as one of the top option quarterbacks in the nation.

"I think he's got the tools to be a great quarterback," says Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel. "One thing he lacks is experience. The sky is the limit for this guy and I know his teammates look up to him, not only because he is a very talented player, but also because of his work ethic."

That, Marques learned from his father. Manu told him that in order to play football, offense or defense, it would require mental and physical toughness.

Marques also learned that no matter how good he could become, he wasn't going anywhere without his teammates. But if they played together, they would go everywhere.

"My dad said it doesn't matter how big they are, how tall they are," Tuiasosopo says. "It doesn't matter what color skin they have, or how old they are, it just matters how big your heart is.

"If you have a bigger heart than the other person, you will win."

And win he has.

After posting a 7-5 record last season that culminated in a Holiday Bowl loss to Kansas State, Tuiasosopo has personally spearheaded the Husky charge this year.

Entering Saturday's game against Cal, Washington is ranked ninth in the nation. The Huskies toppled then-No. 4 Miami in September, and climbed as high as sixth in the polls before dropping a 23-16 decision to Oregon.

For Tuiasosopo, seeing his team succeed is what matters most.

"As a team, we're very close," the slinger says. "There's not too many factions and cliques. We go into things and we come out together."

He also knows that if Washington is to achieve it's main goal of the season - a New Year's game in Pasadena - The Huskies will have to do it as a team.

Last year, Washington appeared Rose Bowl-bound before suffering a 23-20 loss to UCLA in overtime. In the game, the Bruins shut down the Huskies' rushing attack, and limited Tuiasosopo to just 149 yards of total offense - his second-lowest total of the season.

Because of the experience, Tuiasosopo says he can understand some of the difficulties Cal has endured this season, with the defense seeing more success than the offense thus far.

"I think everyone has to understand that it's not one person more that the other," he says. "You can't say our defense (does well and our offense doesn't) because the defense is going to say we let (the opponents) score too many points."

There's one more Tuiasosopo in the family, and he just happens to be a part of that defense. Marques' younger brother Zach, is a linebacker on the Husky's scout team. And like his older brother, Zach has aspirations of one day becoming a star.

"He's learning the ropes," Marques says. "We have a good relationship. Anytime he has a question, he gives me a call."

Should Zach's success even approach that of his older brother's, he too can lay claim to being a part of the proud Tuiasosopo heritage.


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