True to their word, UCLA’s Toailoa brothers making an impact on defense

UCLA's Osa Odighizuwa (92) and Lokeni Toailoa (52) go through punt formation drills at fall football camp practice at the football fields at the Wasserman Football Center on the campus of UCLA.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Whenever there’s a seemingly nonsensical word prompting laughter in the UCLA locker room, it doesn’t take much detective work to find the source.

It’s probably the newest creation of Lokeni and Leni Toailoa. The brothers play linebacker full time for the Bruins and dabble in entries that might find their way into the Urban Dictionary.

Their word creation started back home in Rialto, where the Toailoas and their friends captured life’s little moments in a way only they could.


“When something funny happens, when you stub your toe, you kind of just make whatever noise that comes to mind and it starts from there,” Lokeni said. “Some words stick, others don’t.”

One word that’s endured is goise, which has multiple meanings.

“It’s like, how are you doing, what’s going on?” Lokeni explained. “Or if I’m eating some food that’s really good, I’ll be like, ‘This is goise,’ like this is good. Or like if I’m about to leave or something, I’ll be like, “All right, goise.’ ”

Lokeni, a senior, and Leni, a redshirt junior, have one more season of college football together before they’ll have to bid each other goise. They’re hoping to make it their most memorable after moving into more prominent roles.

John Humphrey, who showcased his keen coverage skills during Pasadena Muir’s season opener, explains why he decided to play college ball at UCLA.

Aug. 26, 2019

Lokeni is expected to start at inside linebacker Thursday when UCLA opens the season at Cincinnati. Leni is listed as one of his backups, though he spent some time in training camp as a first-string outside linebacker with Keisean Lucier-South sidelined at least three games because of academic shortcomings.

“I’m pretty solid with going back and forth,” Leni said of vacillating between the positions. “I don’t need to just play one.”

Though Lokeni is 10 months older than Leni, the brothers belonged to the same graduating class at Carter High in Rialto and arrived together at UCLA in January 2016. While Leni redshirted that season, Lokeni played in 10 games, primarily on special teams.


They have both steadily risen up the depth chart at linebacker. Leni made a career-high eight tackles against Utah. Lokeni contributed to UCLA’s 34-27 victory over USC in November by sacking Trojans quarterback JT Daniels.

The brothers live together in an apartment off campus and share a more standard lingo on the field.

“We talk, we communicate, let each other know what we see, different tendencies and stuff like that,” Leni said. “It’s real cool being out there playing with my brother on the field at the same time all together, I ain’t going to lie.”

The Toailoas have also taken pleasure in creating their own language that’s quickly caught on among teammates.

“Guys will be like, ‘What’s that?’ ” Lokeni said of his phrases. “And then the next thing you know, tomorrow you hear somebody else saying it.”

J. Brady McCollough looks at the biggest storylines in college football ahead of the 2019 season.

Aug. 1, 2019

Being heard


When Stephan Blaylock speaks Thursday, it’s essential that he’s instantaneously understood.

He’ll be making calls for the defense.

The sophomore safety will be making his first career start, replacing the departed Adarius Pickett. Blaylock played in every game last season as a reserve safety and member of the special teams, earning a promotion before spring practice.

Coach Chip Kelly described Blaylock as “very, very, very intelligent. He’s a lot like Q-Lake [Quentin Lake] from an X’s and O’s standpoint in terms of picking things up, so he’s fit in really well back there.”

Blaylock said the Bruins have a contingency plan in case he can’t be heard among the din of a hostile crowd, which could be the case at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.

“If the crowd is going super crazy,” Blaylock said, “we always have hand signals.”