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Texas freshman OG Patrick Vahe is the real-deal, new Kasey Studdard

Appearances can be deceiving, because these two nasty linemen have similar football souls.

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In hair style, Texas Longhorns freshman offensive guard Patrick Vahe and former resident nasty man Kasey Studdard are complete and polar opposites -- Vahe's impressive mane flows out of the back of his helmet in traditional Polynesian fashion, while Studdard was the bald, bearded guy with the slightly crazy look in his eye.

Well, ranging from slightly crazy in a normal, low-key moment to full-on wild man between the whistles. The type of guy you might see wearing a one-percenter patch at a biker bar that no ones messes with, even when the rest of his club isn't around.

From 2004 to 2006, offensive guard Kasey Studdard combined with center Lyle Seindlein as the nasty edge to effective Texas Longhorns rushing attacks featuring Vince Young, Colt McCoy, and Jamaal Charles.

In those days, Texas ran the same plays over and over again at opponents who knew what was coming and still couldn't stop them. In a nutshell, that was offensive coordinator Greg Davis' philosophy at that time -- put better athletes on the field and execute well enough that defenses couldn't do anything about it.

Despite the aforementioned notable differences in appearance, Studdard and Vahe have two major commonalities -- a position and the type of competitive, physical passion for the game that translates to a team-defining toughness.

patrick vahe meme

When redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard was talking about the Longhorns operating a "run-first, nasty, get-at-your-face" offense, he was specifically pointing to the efforts of players like Vahe, most of all, and to a lesser extent his freshman counterpart, Connor Williams at left tackle.

"He loves the game and if you watch the end of plays, he's usually wearing his guy out until the whistle and with the hair flying."

Asked about what makes Vahe special in terms of technique last Tuesday, Texas play caller Jay Norvell referenced his incredible base that allows him to create explosive force off the ball and consistently maintain deep leverage, but first mentioned the incredible love for the game that Vahe possesses.

"He's one of my favorite guys," Norvell began.

Avoiding the question a bit by instead identifying the traits that make Vahe most successful, Norvell perpetuated the same narrative about Vahe that accompanied him throughout his high school career.

"Just his competitive nature," Norvell continued. "He's physical. I think more than anything else, he plays with a great competitive spirit. I mean, he loves the game and if you watch the end of plays, he's usually wearing his guy out until the whistle and with the hair flying and all that kind of stuff."

To describe that final trait merely as an isolated development would be to disrespect Vahe's cultural heritage of football excellence as a Tongan -- there are currently more than 70 players of Polynesian descent in the NFL.

Mormon missionaries first visited Polynesia in the 1840s, winning a number of converts and eventually sparking major migration into the Salt Lake City area and other select sports around the country, but the major movement of Tongans from other regions like California peaked in the 1970s and 1980s and centered around the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

patrick vahe stance

Patrick Vahe was a high school standout in a heavily Tongan community (Student Sports)

Of the more than 50,000 residents of Euless, more than 2,500 of them are of Tongan origin, the largest population in any American city. When Vahe was a senior in 2014, 27 of the 70 Euless Trinity players were of Tongan/Polynesian origin.

So the Tongan Sipi Tau that Vahe performed after the Oklahoma game is a hallmark of Euless Trinity football as a pre-game and post-game ritual and an important part of his culture heritage.

Actually, the particular island existence of the warrior cultures that made up Polynesia is often credited as a reason for the incredible football success of the players who have emerged from those areas.

Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is one of many success stories for football players with Tongan ancestry. His uncle and surrogate father, Haloti Moala, was his coach in high school and supports the theory that the island warrior culture contributed to the future football success of its natives.

"Polynesian players are built for combat, built for football — big, strong, fast. The warrior spirit is within us."

"Polynesian players are built for combat, built for football — big, strong, fast," Moala told USA TODAY Sports. "The warrior spirit is within us.

"We love contact. That's been the history of our people."

In fact, according to Forbes, playing in the NFL is 56 times more likely for a Samoan male than an American non-Samoan.

But it goes deeper than just the warrior culture, according to Moala.

"For the most part, you're getting kids with great family values respectful of their elders," Moala said. "So they'll do everything coaches ask."

The emphasis on the community is real, too -- there's a phrase for it in Tongan, nofo a'kainga, cultural concept reinforcing the idea of mutual reliance, a teamwork trait that translates as well to football as the Pacific Islander's so-called Polynesian warrior culture.

A Texas film student named Huay-Bing Law produced a short film about Vahe last year called "From Tonga" (password: trinity). In it, there's a beautiful moment early in the film following a Trinity game. The camera pans as Vahe's mother walks up to her son in a group of students crowded around him taking a picture. Just as she approaches, Vahe wonders, "Where's mom?" before instantly turning, seeing her, and letting loose a long "Maaaaaaa", smile, and massive hug of pure love.

Just like the competitiveness he shows on the field and the guttural exclamations of his celebratory Sipi Tau after the Oklahoma game, the passion simply tends to burst forth from Vahe.

During the recruiting process, though, Vahe had a difficult decision to make about family. Not only was he the only offensive line commit among four to stick with Texas after the coaching change, he also made his initial decision in no small part because his cousins, Sione and Maea Teuhema, had pledged to the Horns weeks before.

When they decided to flip to LSU in January of 2014, Vahe never followed, maintaining his Texas pledge throughout the cycle.

"At first, yeah," Vahe said back in April of 2014 when asked if he considered opening up his recruitment. "But after meeting with the coaching staff, I realized that Texas is where I want to be."

The presence of offensive line coach Joe Wickline helped solidify the Horns in the Trinity product's mind.

"Coach Wickline is a cool dude," Vahe said. "He's just like one of us, but he's the type of coach who can lead you in the right direction. I was very familiar with what he did at Oklahoma State, since I watched some of their games. The offensive line was amazing and I feel like he could do the same thing at UT."

Once Vahe arrived at Texas, he still had to work his way back from offseason shoulder surgery and never benefitted from the early enrollment of competitors like junior college transfer Brandon Hodges. However, those challenges didn't keep Vahe from quickly breaking into the starting lineup at right guard, where he's remained ever since.

Turns out that passion complementing physical talent -- and perhaps aided by the warrior culture of his ancestors -- can help even a true freshman make a tremendous impact on the game at a position that requires incredible physical and mental maturity. Pass protection is still a work in progress for Vahe, who did little of it at run-heavy Euless Trinity, but all those traits mentioned earlier by Norvell make him look like a four-year starter and potential All-Conference performer as he gets older, wiser, and stronger.

"He loves to play and that I think is one of the most exciting things about him and Connor, as true freshmen, they have a great passion for the game and the mistakes they make, they overcome them by playing so hard," Norvell said. "And so Patrick is going to be a great leader and Connor is gonna be a great leader and you know you've got something when you've got good young freshmen lineman who have got maturity and leadership skills because that's the backbone of your football team."