No. 64 Itula Mili – Tight end – 1991, 1994-1996
Itula Mili played on some good teams, some really good teams. He also played on some teams with really good tight ends and receivers such as Chad Lewis, Mike Johnston, Justin Johnson and K.O. Kealaluhi.
Most of Mili’s playing time came from 1994-1996 after his mission. During those seasons, the Cougars had a 31-8 record with John Walsh and Steve Sarkisian as the quarterbacks and Jamal Willis as the running back. In other words, those teams were stacked and it makes it easy to forget about a tight end who never led the team in receiving or scoring.
Just because those teams were so good though, and Mili is nearly forgotten does not mean that he is not a Top 100 player.
I’ve got a really soft spot for tight ends because they are the secret weapon for a lot of teams. Some teams try to have a wildcat quarterback or a receiver who can throw the ball from time to time, but the tight ends are for the most part under utilized. If a team is able to utilize a tight end, it takes out the linebackers and run defense because they hesitate before the snap to watch to see if the tight end is blocking or going out on a route. Mili was one of two tight ends on every team from 1994 that could catch well. The combination of the two pass catching tight ends destroyed defenses, and that made a huge impact.
Mili’s statistics don’t jump off the page because he played alongside Chad Lewis and Justin Johnson, two really good tight ends. Despite that, he still put up some really good numbers for a tight end. During his career Mili had 125 catches for 1,763 yards for a 14.1 yards per catch average. He had 11 touchdowns and even ran the ball 13 times for 63 yards. For a tight end those are really good statistics, but against players like Jonnny Harline, Dennis Pitta or Chris Smith they don’t stack up so well. The only thing not really hurting Mili in this is the situation he was in. It wasn’t his fault that there were other great players on the team that were just as capable as he was.
Memorable Moments C
In 1996, Mili had a really nice touchdown grab against Texas A&M that ended up being the score difference in the game. From the highlights that are available, Mili was used quite a bit in third down packages to convert slant routes or out route passes to convert the crucial play. Being on the special 14-1 1996 in itself makes him memorable, but as mentioned before, with so much talent on the team, Mili gets buried by the other stars.