Bulldog Breakdown: Offensive line coach receiving recognition as successful young coach

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Football is just about back and that's good for Fresno State Offensive Line Coach Roman Sapolu - after all, it's in his blood.

"My brothers played offensive line, I'm the youngest of four," he said. "My sister is part of the football family as well. My dad played in the NFL 15 years for the San Francisco 49ers."

Sapolu is entering his second season as a coach for Fresno State - and head coach Kalen DeBoer has tasked him with leading the offensive line and coordinating the Bulldog running game.

"Yeah, I have 18 guys, 18 players in my room, and they're all bigger than me," Sapolu said. "Ten starters I believe who started games last year, so all those guys are back. They're hungry to continue to compete so that that definitely helps to have some veteran presence there and they want to continue to get back. There's a sour taste in our mouth from last year, so they're ready to roll."

All 18 of those guys will be looking to Sapolu for guidance and wisdom this season after he was named one of the nation's top young coaches on the 24/7 Sports 30 under 30 list.

"He is a phenomenal young coach," DeBoer said. "It's just fun seeing him work. He got in front of the offense the other day, had a little talk and I was just really impressed, just really impressed and it's fun seeing him work when you have a lot of faith and confidence in a guy who's doing what he's doing."

At 28 years old, he's not all that much older than the young men he's coaching - perhaps helping them connect in a way that older coaches can't.

"I think there's an aspect of that for sure and I also think there's an aspect of, of being too close at times, so I think that's definitely a hurdle some guys have to get over," Sapolu said. "But you know it just, it really what it comes down to whether no matter what age you are is building relationships with your room."

He's hoping those relationships with the room translate onto the field this season - because with football just about back, that means his responsibility to shape the lives of those 18 young men is back too.
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