MILPITAS, Calif. - When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make history playing in the first Super Bowl at their home stadium, a high school in Milpitas will be rooting for one player in particular. Buccaneers Nose Tackle Vita Vea graduated from Milpitas High School.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed to the Super Bowl and most people know Quarterback Tom Brady is from San Mateo. There is another NFL player with Bay Area roots, Defensive Lineman Vita Vea of Milpitas.
"To have a player play in the Super Bowl, we are just so ecstatic for him," said Milpitas High School Football Coach Kelly King.
Before the 25-year-old landed in the NFL, he spent his high school years playing for Milpitas High School. He was 235 pounds back then, a running back and wildcat quarterback.
"When he first stepped onto the field, he hadn’t really played before," said King. "You can obviously see he's something special for his size and mobility. His athleticism he has it all."
"The dream was the NFL and the Super Bowl is like the cherry on top," said Vita’s brother Sifa Vea.
Now 6’4" and just shy of 350 pounds, Vea was the 12th pick in the NFL draft in 2018. He’s considered one of the league's best defensive tackles who scored a touchdown last season.
He was out for most of this season after suffering a broken ankle back in October. He was off the injured reserve list Friday just in time to play in the NFC Championship game.
"I’m happy when the game is finished, his ankle is still okay so he can make it to the Super Bowl," said Vita’s Father Sione Vea.
Vea facetimed his brother after Sunday’s wearing the NFC championship shirt and smoking a cigar. His success is attributed to his hard-working parents who immigrated from Tonga.
"We go to Milpitas High," said Milpitas High Quarterback John Vogel. "He was here and know he's playing for the Super Bowl that’s a goal."
For current players at Milpitas High, he is a role model and an inspiration. They’re notes of his moves hoping to work just as hard.
"It’s a dream not just for the school, not just for the football team, for the community of Milpitas," said Milpitas High Safety & Wide Receiver Andrew Tellez.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.