HomeSportsNFLFamily at the forefront for Cowboys rookie defensive lineman Viliami Fehoko Jr.

Family at the forefront for Cowboys rookie defensive lineman Viliami Fehoko Jr.

by Nikki Chavanelle
Junior Viliami Fehoko Cowboys
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY

Dallas Cowboys fourth-round selection Viliami “Junior” Fehoko doesn’t need a chip on his shoulder or haters to prove wrong to motivate him as he enters his first season in the NFL. All the former San Jose State star needs is the family that has been in his corner all along.

Fehoko pulled back the curtain for reporters on his driving forces at Cowboys rookie minicamp over the weekend.

“Man my No. 1 motivation and inspiration has always been my family,” Fehoko said. “Our journey as a family… Just coming from where we came from, all the obstacles we had to go through to get here. They’re always in the back of my mind when I put my hand down or when I line up on that football field. I think of my mom, my new daughter… Family is everything to me.”

A lesser-known prospect coming out of high school, Fehoko opted to stay close to home at San Jose State instead of exploring a couple of Pac-12 offers.

His decision didn’t put him in the national spotlight but it kept him close to the family that supported him. It also put him on a path to win the Mountain West’s Defensive Player of the Year award in his final season. He also earned second-team All-American honors.

Fehoko leans on family with ‘1,000 cousins’

In four seasons at San Jose State, he posted 23 sacks, 190 tackles, 47 tackles for loss, along with five forced fumbles. He did all that with his family cheering him on almost every weekend.

“They were always in the corner of San Jose State Stadium every week,” Fehoko said. “So being able to look up every week and see [them] take up the whole top corner. I have like 1,000 cousins, 500 church members, everyone came out.”

Family is not only a strong motivating factor for Fehoko. The talent in the family runs deep. He happens to be second cousins with Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea. Also, as a young player, he also looked up to Troy Polamalu as another role model of Polynesian descent.

Asked whether he thinks he’ll get the same support from his family now that he’s in Dallas, Fehoko had no doubt.

“Oh yeah. They’ll probably take the top right corner again.”

Following rookie minicamp, Fehoko and the rest of the 2023 draftees will join the Cowboys vets for OTAs starting on May 22.