Tale of the tape: Where Vai Taua thinks his brother, Toa, is better than him

Toa Taua
Toa Taua is entering his third season as Nevada's starting running back. (Byrne Photo/Nevada athletics)

Vai Taua made history on the field for the Nevada Wolf Pack by becoming the school's all-time leading rusher in its FBS era.

He's also made history off it, becoming the first Wolf Pack assistant to coach his brother. The 32-year-old was elevated to Nevada's running backs coach prior to last season, with the team's top back being Vai's youngest brother, Toa, who is trying to create his own legacy at Nevada.

Both Tauas were 5-foot-9 and 210 pounds during their playing career, but Vai is the first to admit Toa is the more athletically gifted of the two even if the odds are long of Toa matching the kind of record-breaking production Vai piled up during his Wolf Pack career.

Vai was asked to break down where Toa is superior to him as a running back and where he needs to improve to match Vai's impact on the field.

"Some of the things he's able to do, I wouldn't have been able to dream of doing," Vai said. "Toa's big-play ability and just being able to stay active and how athletic he is, I think that's where his talent is, his big-play ability, whether it's running the ball or catching it. One of the things I think he has to work on -- and he's growing; it's his third year out of high school -- is being able to know things aren't going to be easy. Being my younger brother, maybe things have been handed to him. As he's going and he's growing, he'll learn there's some good that comes out of the struggle and him being able to fight through a struggle and get through the end and seeing what hard work does is something I continue to talk to him about in seeing him grow."

During his four-year Wolf Pack career, Vai rushed for 4,588 yards (102 per game), 6.5 yards per carry and scored 53 touchdowns. Toa has accumulated 1,679 rushing yards (64.6 per game), 4.5 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns in his first two college seasons. In addition to his obvious skills, Vai was fortunate to run behind some great lines in a new and dynamic offense (the Pistol) alongside a historically great dual-threat quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, each being benefits not been afford to Toa in his Wolf Pack career.

It will take a lot of work for Toa to chase Vai down in the Wolf Pack record books, although it's not out of the realm of possibility with the NCAA granting fall sport athletes an additional year of eligibility, which gives Toa up to three more seasons with the Wolf Pack. If Toa is to reach those marks, it will be Vai coaching him to those records, something the elder Taua wouldn't have predicted when he played for the Wolf Pack. But he's thrilled to get an opportunity that no other family has accomplished in Nevada history.

"It's a dream," Vai said of coaching at Nevada. "Really, I'm living a dream. Being able to coach my brother and us being the first brother coach-player duo, kind of navigating that and learning from it. There are definitely things to learn. Like I said, we're the first to do it, so there are times where I'm hard on him and feel like I should probably talk to him. And then there are times where I'm not hard enough and kind of let him get away with stuff. Just being able to navigate that. But the running back room I have right now is awesome. I have some talented kids that are way more talented than I was. Not only talented, but they're great off the field as well. They're just great people, and I'm just glad to be able to coach them, that whole group."

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