Interviewer: Playing nose tackle looks about as much fun as being caught in a washing machine stuck on the spin cycle. Do you actually like this job? Tupou: If it helps my team win, I don’t mind doing it at all. You get hit a lot and stuff. But I like hitting. So it’s fun. Interviewer: By my calculation, CU is ranked 31st in the latest AP poll. After finishing with a 4-9 record last year, what gave this team the crazy idea it can win the Pacific-12 Conference? Tupou: I don’t think it was a crazy idea. To the outside world, it was a crazy idea. But to us? It was something we knew we could achieve. Interviewer: CU likes to call it “The Rise.” OK, let’s compare your rise to the team’s rise. Which one has been tougher? Tupou: Oh, the team. The older guys were here when Coach (Mike) MacIntyre first got to Colorado. And all those guys were here for all those tough losses. We’ve grown up together. Interviewer: When you were suspended from the team, what did you miss most about the game? Tupou: The brotherhood. When you leave home for college, a lot of players come from places far away, and this team becomes your new family, the guys you turn to when something is going on in your life. Interviewer: When you got kicked off the team, did you ever fear that football was over for you? Tupou: I was always worried. It was always in the back of my mind that I could be done. It was frightening. But in the back of your mind, you also know football is going to come to an end at some point and you’re going to have to move on. Interviewer: Do you believe in second chances? Tupou: We all make mistakes in life. And sometimes you get a second chance. I was blessed to get the chance. Interviewer: Football players have started a nationwide discussion about the troubling relationship between police and people of color in the United States. Growing up in California, what were you taught about how to view the police? Tupou: I don’t want to speak on that topic. Interviewer: I am told that CU defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is a football genius. How would you describe him? Tupou: He brings a lot of passion to every practice. He’s really intense with us. And he keeps it straightforward. If we mess up, he tells us we mess up. And if we’re good, he tells us we’re good. There’s nothing lost between the lines. Interviewer: The NFL has you on the radar. Your draft stock is rising. Are you good enough to play on Sundays? Tupou: All I know is Saturday we have a game against Oregon State.