Semisi Tokolahi has plenty of Thanksgiving Day options:
* He could pig out on dinner - but that would go against what the University of Washington defensive tackle has been trying to accomplish the past 18 months - lose weight.
* He could spend a few hours after morning practice on the elliptical machine, which is something he's become accustomed to during his UW tenure.
* Perhaps most pressing, he could try and sneak into a men's clothing store at University Village to find outfits that match his dwindling frame.
Never miss a local story.
Tokolahi is the new late-addition starter to the Huskies' defensive line. A big reason for that is improved fitness and better explosion off the ball.
The sophomore from Hilo, Hawaii got his first career start against UCLA - and was as important a part in limited the Bruins' rushing attack to just 108 yards - the second-lowest output by an opponent behind Arizona State's 99 in early October.
"You know what ... if there's one guy on defense who's really improved, it's him," UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. "He's really playing up to what we thought he would be."
Born in Tonga, Tokolahi was part of coach Steve Sarkisian's first recruiting group. He came into the program weighing 345 pounds - too heavy to the coaching staff's liking.
He redshirted with one priority in mind - shed pounds.
"I was just working out every day," Tokolahi said. "Me and Meda (Alameda Ta'amu) did extra workouts before and after our summer training and winter workouts. We'd always do 'Stairmaster' before our team runs."
"Yeah ... but it pays off now," he said. "I feel lot better, a lot faster, a lot quicker – a lot more explosive."
Holt and company listed 300 pounds as a goal. Tokolahi exceeded that - he's now at 289.
"I guess (I went too far)," Tokolahi said.
His suit size used to be 4XL - he's now at 2XL.
His waist size has dropped from 44 inches to 40.
"They told me to lose weight - that it would make me faster laterally," Tokolahi said, "instead of just leaning on somebody."
* Talked to Akili Smith, the former Oregon quarterbacking great from 1998, on Wednesday (in fact, doing a story on him for the Friday edition).
Smith, the former No. 3 NFL Draft selection in 1999 of Cincinnati, is now an administrative assistant at California under Jeff Tedford, who was his offensive coordinator for the Ducks.
Asked him about two topics.
How would he do in the current Oregon offense?"Man, I talk about that all the time. ... Add another 1,600 total yards (to 1998 total of 3,763 passing yards and 32 touchdowns). They're real impressive."
Advice to fellow Pacific-10 Conference quarterbacks Jake Locker (UW) and Andrew Luck (Stanford), who are projected to be first-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft?"Biggest thing I see for Jake and Luck, I hope they get in a situation where they can sit and learn. Jake is a tremdnous talent - unbelievable - and he’ll excel because of his arm strength and mobility."
* Thanksgiving Day is certainly one of Sarkisian's favorite days of the year. Two years ago today, he interviewed for the UW job with athletic director Scott Woodward.
"Has a little special place in my heart," Sarkisian said.
After practice Thursday, the Sarkisian family invited 50-60 players and assistant coaches over to the house for a catered dinner (Stephanie Sarkisian did bake desserts).
"I love the fact football is on, and you’re around people you love and you get to share good times with.
"(We'll have) a pretty good mix (of players and assistants). I just wanted to make sure nobody was alone for Thanskgiving. I don’t like that. You should always have somewhere to go."
* THURSDAY PRACTICE NOTES: Safety Sean Parker (shoulder) was a full participant, and offensive lineman Ryan Tolar (knee) did limited individual work at practice Thanksgiving Day morning, which was again held indoors at the Dempsey Center. Both will travel, and be game-time decisions Saturday, Sarkisian said. … The team bus will leave campus Friday at noon, and arrive in Oakland at 3 p.m., followed by an hour-long walkthrough at Memorial Coliseum.