Lavasier Tuinei’s trips to Green Bay were separated by about a dozen years.
Back when his dad, Van Tuinei, played for the Chicago Bears in 1999 and 2000, Lavasier had a seat in Lambeau Field to watch the NFL’s most famous rivalry.
“I was young and don’t know the exact game but I know Brett Favre was there,” Lavasier told Packer Report. “My dad actually got the game ball for that game. All I remember is it was snowing and it was cold — very, very cold.”
Tuinei recently had a pre-draft visit with the Packers, according to another prospect who was there.
At 6-foot-4 1/2 and 222 pounds, Tuinei provides a massive target. In three seasons, he caught 108 passes for 1,212 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a senior, he had career highs in receptions (48), yards (599), touchdowns (10) and average (11.2 per reception). He closed his career by being named the Rose Bowl’s top offensive player after riddling Wisconsin for eight catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
Richard Mackson/US Presswire
Tuinei is projected to be an undrafted free agent, according to NFL scout Dave-Te Thomas. His physical attributes, however, are highly intriguing and easily could move him into Day 3. Among receivers in this draft who are at least 6-foot-3, Tuinei boasts:
— The fourth-fastest 40, at an average of 4.52 seconds at his pro day.
— The second-longest broad jump, at 126 inches.
— The fastest three-cone drill at 6.71 seconds, a figure that would have ranked third among all receivers at the Scouting Combine.
— The second-fastest 20-yard shuttle at 4.12 seconds.
On an Oregon offense that ran the ball 62 percent of the time, Tuinei made the most of his opportunities. Of the 15 touchdown catches by the Ducks’ receivers, Tuinei hauled in 10 of them.
“I just feel like I didn’t get the opportunities like they did,” Tuinei said of the draft’s other big receivers. “Coming from an offense that ran it (62) percent of the time, the opportunities were limited. I just tried to make plays as much as I could whenever the ball came my way.”
Van Tuinei had a huge presence on his son’s life, and he calls his dad his best friend.
“When I lived with my mom, she didn’t want me to play football,” Lavasier said. “When my dad got custody, it was life changing for me. He changed me on the field and off the field. He never forced any sports on me and he never forced football on me, even though that’s what he did for a living. He knew it would just come naturally. He put his main focus on school and told me how important it was and how far it was going to get to me. If it wasn’t for school, I wouldn’t have gotten this far.”
And what would a former Chicago Bear think of his son wearing the rival green-and-gold?
“Yeah, he’d be fine with that,” Tuinei said. “There’s no rivalry going on or anything like that. My dad wants the best for me and he would love for me to be in Green Bay.”
Tuinei isn't the only receiver to have visited. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Boise State's Tyler Shoemaker (6-foot-1 1/2) and Colorado's Toney Clemons (6-foot-2) also visited. Shoemaker, who ran his 40 in 4.47 seconds, caught 62 passes for 994 yards and 16 touchdowns in Boise State's explosive offense. Clemons, who ran a sizzling 4.36 in the 40, caught 43 passes for 680 yards and eight touchdowns.
“This has been a great experience,” Tuinei said. “I’m not trying to focus on that day because it was stressful as it was for pro day and then waiting for this moment, which is going to be one of the greatest moments of my life if I’m blessed to get drafted. I’m just enjoying it and soaking it all in and not stressing too much about it.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.