‘I worked for it’: Sua Opeta represents Weber State football at the Super Bowl
Football players from the Big Sky Conference reaching the NFL is not unheard of, but two have made it to the pinnacle with the Philadelphia Eagles as they play in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona: offensive lineman Iosua Opeta of Weber State and linebacker Christian Elliss from the University of Idaho.
Opeta played at Weber State from 2015 to 2018 after redshirting his first year in 2014. The longtime Weber State Wildcat was an undrafted free agent in 2019 before signing with the Eagles, where he has been ever since.
He is listed on the practice squad ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl bout against the Kansas City Chiefs. Opeta said that coming from the Big Sky is something he has always been proud of.
“I always take pride in meeting other Big Sky players because there’s not a lot of us,” Opeta said. “It’s just a cool feeling to be able to represent such a small conference and just be able to show other Big Sky players it’s doable. You just got to work for it.”
Opeta is a Utah lifer. He was born in Bountiful and raised in Stansbury Park, where he earned all-state and all-region honors in high school. His former high school teammate, Zayne Anderson out of BYU, is a defensive back for the Chiefs.
Opeta chose Weber State over then-Big Sky competitor Southern Utah as the Wildcats allowed him to play defensive tackle. He earned 16 tackles that year before becoming an offensive tackle. He was named an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention.
His success continued to rise from the moment he made the switch to offense. Opeta never missed a game in his final three years and was named an AP All-American his last two seasons, on top of being on the All-Big Sky First Team.
Weber State won the Big Sky Championship his last two years with 21 combined wins and appearances in the FCS Playoff quarterfinals each season.
Opeta graduated in 2018 with a degree in Human Performance Management. His work after graduation got him a shot in the NFL. He famously bench-pressed 225 pounds 39 times at the NFL Combine, the most of any offensive lineman.
He made his NFL debut in 2020 where he appeared in 170 snaps, about 15% of the Eagles’ plays on offense. He had similar numbers in 2021, including playing every snap in Philadelphia’s Wild Card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Opeta has played 92 snaps this season across seven games. The spectacle of the Super Bowl is one he is excited about.
“It’s been incredible,” Opeta said. “I can’t even believe this is really happening but, at the same time, I do believe it because I worked for it.”
Elliss has also worked hard to get the active roster ahead of the Super Bowl. He was a three-time All-Big Sky player, including two first-team nods during his junior and senior years at Idaho.
Elliss talked about his Big Sky connection with Opeta.
“I was this close to going to Weber,” Eliss said. “It would have been interesting to play with him and talk to him about that.”
He is in his second stint with Philadelphia after going undrafted in 2021, following short stays with Minnesota and San Francisco.
Elliss made his NFL debut in Week 18 of the 2021-22 season against the Dallas Cowboys, recording three tackles. He returned in 2022 where he recorded 10 tackles across 22 snaps in six regular season games, earning a tackle in almost half the snaps he played in.
His father, Luther, was a two-time Pro Bowler in 1999 and 2000 across 10 NFL seasons. Luther won WAC Defensive Player of the Year at the University of Utah and was a consensus All-American in 1994 as a senior. He is currently the defensive tackles coach for the Utes after he coached his sons at Idaho.