How does one characterize strength?
Physically? By the amount of weight one can move?
Mentally? By the amount of pain one can tolerate?
Emotionally? By the amount of adversity one can overcome?
For Vi Teofilo, the answer is yes to all of the above—and then some.
The former Arizona State Sun Devils right guard stands at 6 foot 3, weighs 325 pounds, and is a larger-than-life, living embodiment of strength.
His journey to this point in life has been nothing short of a prolonged demonstration of fortitude.
Teofilo hails from American Samoa, located in the South Pacific Ocean. He's the youngest of six children.
During an interview in October 2015, he told Doug Haller of AZ Central that a lot was asked of him while he lived there.
"Every day is so structured," he said to Haller, recalling his childhood. "Everything is based off respect. It's a great traditional system."
Teofilo went on to say that when he was 12 years old, he came to Arizona with his parents to visit two of his brothers. However, unknowingly to him, his parents were intent on him staying in Arizona, not returning with them.
He found himself situated in unfamiliar territory. Although, he'd eventually come to find a passion and joy for something stateside—the game of football.
Teofilo attended Moon Valley High School in Phoenix. As a member of the football team, he played on both sides of the ball, starring along the defensive and offensive line.
"I liked defense a lot more when I was in high school, and decided to stick with offense once I got into college," he said. "It's been a pretty good plan so far."
Part of the reason for that plan working out was his high school experience in another sport—wrestling.
Teofilo was a Class 4A Division I-heavyweight state-champion wrestler. He says his time in the ring has translated well to his play on the field.
"It definitely helped in the run game," he said. "The run game has a lot to do with leverage. (Wrestling is) something that's definitely helped me out in the run game throughout my career."
Following high school, Teofilo was recruited to play football by Arizona State, Fresno State, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Oregon State and San Diego State. He says he chose ASU over the others for two reasons: "That I was close to family, and that I'd have a decent chance of playing."
While close to family, the playing opportunities weren't initially handed to him. Teofilo was redshirted his freshman year under then-ASU head coach Dennis Erickson. Regardless, he looked forward with a positive mindset.
"I kind of knew Erickson was on his way out, so I knew I'd have a fresh start that next year with a new head coach," he said.
Erickson was fired at the end of Teofilo's redshirt season. Todd Graham was brought in to replace him, granting Teofilo a fresh start.
In Graham's first season in Tempe, Teofilo made three fill-in starts at right guard. He parlayed his performances into a starting role at the position during his redshirt-sophomore year—a spot he didn't relinquish the rest of his career.
Teofilo says his experience on the defensive line played a part in helping him succeed at guard.
"It helped me in a way that I can kind of predict what's going to happen and what moves (defenders are) going to make because it takes the same steps to set up the same move," he said. "You kind of get used to timing up what move does that, and what move they're going to make."
Over three seasons, Teofilo combined intuition, experience and skill en route to making 40 consecutive starts, putting his grit and toughness on full display.
During that stretch in 2013, he once played through a torn anterior cruciate ligament. In the Sun Devils' 2014 Sun Bowl win against the Duke Blue Devils, he tore his right ACL, and played on it. When the 2015 season began just over eight months later, he reassumed his starting post.
ASU offensive line coach Chris Thomsen said Teofilo's work ethic is praiseworthy.
"He's a very hard worker," Thomsen said. "He's a very tough guy."
Along with his ironman streak, Teofilo was named to the All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention list in both 2014 and 2015.
One of his most familiar teammates, former ASU left guard Christian Westerman, thinks very highly of him.
"It was awesome," Westerman said of their partnership. "The guy is a road-grater. Me, him and (former ASU center) Nick (Kelly) in the middle, we led that offensive line last year."
The two started over 20 games alongside each other during their ASU careers and share a special bond.
"We pushed each other throughout our college career since he's been here," Teofilo said of Westerman. "He's been my boy, my go-to when I want to compete."
Having reached the conclusion of their college careers, Westerman and Teofilo now look toward the next chapter of their lives in the NFL.
Throughout the draft process, they've each confirmed that they formed one of the best guard pairings in college football.
"We had to push ourselves to try and get better," said Teofilo. "I think he would say the same thing. He'll say that both of us, if we weren't together, we'd probably not be this successful or have the success in college we had."
The road to achieving their goals has placed them on differing paths. Westerman was invited to the 2016 NFL Combine, and is regarded as one of the top guard prospects in this year's draft.
Following college, Teofilo was generally considered an under-the-radar prospect, and wasn't invited to the event. Regardless, he is working hard to earn his opportunity and is enjoying the draft process.
"To me, it's been fun," he said. "You get to focus more on football. You're doing your own thing, getting better at what you're good at, and improving your weaknesses."
In preparation for the NFL, Teofilo has been working with EXOS, a Phoenix-based athletic performance institute. Since he's joined, he's seen his weight increase from 315 to 325 pounds.
"I've always naturally been a big kid, but I've never been, like, big," he said, chuckling. "I think I move very good for (my size). I think I move very good for an offensive lineman."
His diet consisting of three meals and two protein shakes per day is what he says is the biggest game-changer for him.
"You have to work hard to gain muscle mass and then gain some weight at this level," he said. "It's not normal to be 325 pounds, so it's hard."
Teofilo's first pre-draft opportunity to perform in a national spotlight came in Tampa, Fla., when he was invited to the 2016 East West Shrine Game.
"You kind of get to see where you stack up in the country when you go to those All-Star games," he said. "I thought it was really fun, and it definitely, I think, benefited me to go play."
The most beneficial pre-draft activity Teofilo took part in, however, proved to be ASU's Pro Day.
Teofilo tallied 43 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press during the event. It's an outstanding total that would have been the most reps of any offensive lineman at this year's Combine.
Despite the exhibition aiding to influence a team to potentially select him during the NFL Draft, he's still rather nonchalant about his performance.
"I had high expectations going into it, so I wasn't really shocked," Teofilo said. "To be honest, I was actually disappointed I didn't get closer to 50 (reps)."
"You always wanna see your guys do good," Westerman said of Teofilo's performance. "He killed it."
In addition to his impressive bench press showcase, Teofilo recorded a 9.67-foot broad jump and a 29.5-inch vertical jump during ASU Pro Day, according to 3SigmaAthlete.com.
The site collects Combine and pro day data from across the country to produce a metric called pSPARQ. The scores are tracked and calculated to project how prospects compare athletically to players at their position in the NFL.
Teofilo netted a pSPARQ grade of 119.0, which is in the 91st percentile of NFL offensive linemen athletic profiles. It's the sixth-best grade among this year's graded offensive guards.
Zach Whitman, owner of 3SigmaAthlete.com, said he was intrigued by the ASU product's score.
"It's a very interesting athletic profile," Whitman said in an email. "High on power (vert, broad, and bench all very high), and lacking some of the quickness usually associated with SPARQ stars (sic)."
Whitman said he's tracking Teofilo closely because his profile compares to NFL guards Josh Sitton and Justin Blalock.
Sitton—the starting left guard for the Green Bay Packers—is a former fourth-round pick, and is a three-time All-Pro second-team member, three-time Pro Bowler, and a Super Bowl champion. Blalock is a former second-round pick who played eight years for the Atlanta Falcons prior to retiring in 2015, having started all 125 games he appeared in.
Thomsen says that Teofilo is a player who should make an NFL roster.
"Draft-wise, I don't know where he'll end up, but every team that talks to me, (I tell them) that's a guy that I believe 100 percent in," Thomsen said. "I'd put him out there against anybody. I know he'll come out and fight and compete and play great."
As for assessing himself, Teofilo said that along with his strength, he has good feet. He also says he's one of the most intelligent players in the draft.
"I believe that I'm the smartest dude in the draft this year," he said. "I might not be the smartest in the classroom, but put me in the film room and I think I'm the smartest dude when it comes to that, picking up plays and that kind of stuff."
Thomsen said Teofilo's intelligence set him apart from other players he's coached.
"He loves football," Thomsen said. "Very smart player. One of the smartest players I've ever had."
Still, his physical and mental attributes aren't the only way in which he demonstrates strength.
Teofilo is a relatively quiet individual. He holds a calm, rooted presence, even at his size.
Westerman said that the two of them prided themselves on leading by example.
"You have your ‘rah-rah' guys, but a lot of those guys don't do things on the field," Westerman said. "They don't walk the talk. Me and Vi just kind of walk, and then let people talk for us."
"I try not to get too excited," Teofilo said. "I let things happen and then I just prepare for the worst and expect the best. You're not gonna see me hooping and hollering."
It's his stable, unwavering personality that's vaulted him through so much leading up to now.
Though it's clear Teofilo possesses Samson-like strength, his best attribute may be his ability to demonstrate strength directly in the face of adversity, meeting it with a collected approach.
Said Teofilo of his demeanor: "I try to keep that attitude just because when you're more calm, you have a better chance of making better decisions when you're calm like that."