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Paul Soliai makes major donation to Utah football center

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 3:47 p.m. MDT

Miami Dolphins defensive end Paul Soliai watches in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints during an NFL football game in Miami Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009. (Lynne Sladky, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Miami Dolphins defensive end Paul Soliai watches in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints during an NFL football game in Miami Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009. (Lynne Sladky, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SALT LAKE CITY — Former University of Utah all-conference defensive tackle Paul Soliai — now a franchise player for the Miami Dolphins — has pledged $250,000 to the University of Utah’s new football center. His contribution will fund the Paul and LeTasha Soliai Player Lounge.

“I’m thankful I can donate and help out the University of Utah football team and give back to the school. They gave me the opportunity to play and as a kid from Samoa, it’s something I’m thankful for every day. Without the university giving me a scholarship to play the sport I love, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Soliai played in 24 games for Utah from 2005-06 after redshirting in 2004 and was named second-team all-Mountain West Conference as a senior. He was then selected in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL draft by Miami, where he is preparing for his seventh season.

Utah's Paul Soliai celebrates after tackling Arizona quarterback Adam Austin as the University of Utah and the University of Arizona play football in Salt Lake City, Utah Sept. 2, 2005. Photo by Tom Smart (TOM SMART, DESERET MORNING NEWS) Utah's Paul Soliai celebrates after tackling Arizona quarterback Adam Austin as the University of Utah and the University of Arizona play football in Salt Lake City, Utah Sept. 2, 2005. Photo by Tom Smart (TOM SMART, DESERET MORNING NEWS)

“We are extremely grateful to Paul and LeTasha for their generous gift to our new football facility,” said head football coach Kyle Whittingham. “Paul was a great player for us and his loyalty to our program and its continued success demonstrates the kind of person he is. We are proud to have his name in our new facility.”

Soliai, who has started in the middle for the Dolphins for all or part of the past four seasons, became the highest paid defensive player in franchise history in 2011 and played in the Pro Bowl.

“We cherish this donation from Paul because it shows how deeply he felt about his experience at the University of Utah,” said Athletic Director Chris Hill. “We are appreciative that he is now giving to the future of this program, as his generosity will impact recruiting classes for years to come.”

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