Navy sophomore quarterback Tai Lavatai’s stock is on the rise after the third game of his career with the Midshipmen, and he credits his mother, Gina, for his success on the field.
Even though Navy fell to 1-4 after losing to SMU, 31-24, on Oct. 9, Latavai put together another representative performance, running 24 times for 53 yards. That came after Latavai led the Mids to win against UCF the previous week.
Overall, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound quarterback has carried the ball 61 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns and has completed 7 of 17 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown this year. Lavatai believes much of his success is because of his mother.
“My mom’s been there with me through everything. She’s helped me since I was in Pop Warner when I was 5 up until I got here. She’s been my No. 1 supporter and biggest fan,” Lavatai said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 7. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster going through the prep school and through the academy last year and this year, but she’s been with me every step of the way.”
“I owe everything to her with the amount of time she’s put into my success here and in football,” he added.
Lavatai grew up in St. Johns, Fla., and attended Creekside High School. He played baseball and football at Creekside and was a captain of the football team as a junior and senior. After graduating high school, Lavatai attended the Naval Academy Prep School during the 2019-20 academic year.
From there, Lavatai studied at the Naval Academy during the 2020-21 academic year. Lavatai chose to attend Navy with his mother in mind.
“I think this is the position to not have my mom have to pay for anything, really, for college and having like a future job that was going to be set up and help me throughout my career was a big selling point for me,” Lavatai said. “I think that was probably the main thing. And I get to play football that’s at a high level.”
After seeing no game action as a freshman, Latavai has started three games as a sophomore. The Mids were blown out by Marshall, 49-7, in the first start of Lavatai’s career. Lavatai was sidelined for two games after being injured in the second half.
Lavatai returned to the starting role against UCF Oct. 2. The Knights led, 30-17, going into the fourth quarter, but the Mids scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to get their first win of the season. Navy’s defense took control of the fourth quarter, forcing the Knights to punt on their first possession of the fourth and turn the ball over on their final two possessions.
In that game, Lavatai was the anchor of the ship and led Navy’s offense down the field multiple times. Lavatai finished the game with 58 passing yards, 57 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
In Lavatai’s third game of the season, the Mids faced SMU, now ranked No. 23 in the nation. Navy stayed with the Mustangs throughout the game, but the Mids’ offense stalled out on their final two drives. Both drives lasted only four plays. Lavatai finished the game 4 of 7 for 64 yards and a touchdown as a passer. Lavatai also carried the ball 24 times for 53 yards.
“Regardless of what happens at the end of the game, we’re never going to stop fighting. It’s never going to be a moment where we give up or give in to whatever anyone else is saying about us,” Lavatai said. “… Regardless of what happens, like we’re going to move forward and play for the person next to us.”
The Mids face Memphis on Thursday, Oct. 14.
For more from Lavatai, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Navy Athletics