HERO Sports is counting down the days until the kickoff of the 2018 college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, by featuring the best player in the FBS at each jersey number, from 99-1. Each day, from May 18 through Aug. 24, we'll publish one article showcasing the best player whose jersey number matches the number of days remaining.
No. 31 Jahlani Tavai
Hawai'i – LB
Six Hawai'i linebackers have been selected in the NFL Draft, only two of whom were selected before the seventh round. Can Jahlani Tavai join former Warriors Jeff Ulbrich (third round, 2000) and Pisa Tinoisamoa (second round, 2003) with another strong season?
Tavai is a native of Inglewood, Calif., who accepted his lone scholarship after playing nose guard and tight end at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, Calif. After redshirting in 2014, he made an immediate impact at linebacker in 2015 and enters his senior season as one of the most decorated and productive linebackers in program history.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder is a two-time all-conference selection and has 253 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks over the last two seasons. Tavai was one of only two players in the FBS to record at least 120 tackles in both 2016 (129) and 2017 (124).
He's the best No. 31 in college football and in position to become Hawai'i's second draft pick since 2012 and the just the third linebacker ever selected in the first six rounds.