Wednesday, March 31, 2010

David Pa'aluhi Leaves Oregon State Football Team

It hasn't been an off-season of total upheaval at OSU, but losing probable starting outside linebacker Keith Pankey to a torn achilles was a blow, and on Thursday the Beavers took another hit when the school announced that starting middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi was leaving the program.

The 5-11, 233-pound junior-to-be made 13 career starts and was 2009 all Pac-10 honorable mention. He was No. 2 on the team with 77 tackles (he had a career-high 12 tackles vs. Arizona) and forced a fumble in OSU's loss to BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. He had 96 career tackles.

Pa'aluhi, who everyone around the program called "Bubba'' was an interesting athlete, because of his background in wrestling and martial arts, and didn't play high school football until his senior year.

The players behind Pa'aluhi on OSU's last depth chart were senior-to-be Walker Vave (6-2, 240) and sophomore-to-be Rueben Robinson (6-1, 209). ... another possibility is sophomore-to-be Kevin Unga (6-1, 223) and there is also promising sophomore-to-be Tony Wilson from Sprague High School in Salem who could get a look at MLB.

“We fully support David’s decision,” OSU coach Mike Riley said.  “He’s a terrific young man with a great future, and all of us in the Beaver football program thank him for his contributions and wish him the very best.”

Full Article

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Day In The Life of Chris Kemoeatu

Join us in Hawaii as we spend A Day In The Life of Pittsburgh Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Maualuga Eyes Redemption With Pro Bowl Goal

Even before the DUI, even before the trip back Samoa, even before the month-long rehab, Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga knew his goal for 2010.

“The Pro Bowl,” he says.

Given the road to redemption script the Bengals wrote last year, why not? And if there is a guy that knows a Pro Bowl backer in the making, it is Bengals linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald, who one season in Baltimore coached a Pro Bowler at every spot.

“Oh yes. That part is exciting,” says FitzGerald of Maualuga’s potential. “In order to realize that type ability, it’s got to be controlled.”

Admitting he’d been through “a little bit of havoc,” Maualuga returned to the Bengals Monday sounding more in control. Declaring that he’s “a different man,” and that his stint at the Center for Drug and Alcohol Counseling in Charleston, S.C. “was a life-changer for me,” he vowed this is “my year.”

“It was an eye-opening experience and blessing in disguise,” he said. “I found out a lot about myself that I didn’t know. I was able to sit back and listen to people’s stories and they gave me good feedback about mine. But I needed to show it with my actions.”

On Monday, Maualuga displayed why he has become one of the most popular Bengals in recent memory. He’s honest, humble, passionate.

“I just hope the city of Cincinnati and my fans will accept my apology and hopefully help me through all this and move forward now,” he said. “There’s a lot more important things to take care of. Just to get this workout underway and be back with my teammates and get things rolling again.”

What he sees now as more important is that Pro Bowl berth, where a Bengals linebacker hasn’t been named since Jim LeClair in 1976.

He had a strong rookie year despite switching from middle linebacker and playing SAM for the first time in his life. Before he broke his lower leg in the next to last game of the season, Maualuga had started every game and racked up 80 tackles. But this was the nation’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and he was looking for something more explosive than one sack and two forced fumbles.

(One of those forced fumbles turned the Green Bay game in the 31-24 win on the road that turned the season.)

“It was a good first year for him from the standpoint of understanding the defense, understanding the position and the type of things that can get you dinged in this league week after week,” FitzGerald says. “He’s capable. He flashed doing those things. But you have to govern it. Sometimes you need a speed eliminator on there. Know how and when to control it. No question he made progress last year. But he wasn’t satisfied and neither was I.”

Maualuga may be right. He is already sounding like a different guy when asked what he has to do wreak more havoc on the field.

“Give my body the attention it deserves. My mind and expand it with more information and more knowledge of the game,” he said. “Last year I took everything lightly. I was just going with the steps. Just doing what I was supposed to do. But I think this year is a different year. It’s my year.”

He think his year of experience will “make it a lot easier,” to reach what he says is “The sky’s the limit.”
“I can be way better, I think, if I put all my effort into it,” he said. “I think I’ve got a lot more to offer and a lot more to give. I guess it’s easier said than done.”

So much happened to him so quickly. About a week after his DUI arrest in Covington, Ky., at the end of January, he returned to American Samoa for the first time since he was three years old on a trip with teammates Domata Peko and Jonathan Fanene.

They were there to give the governor a $40,000 check for relief efforts raised from Bengals fans for last year’s killer storm and to speak to the high school students of Pago Pago. Maualuga donated more than 700 pairs of cleats to the six football teams but it was also a family reunion that helped him develop even more perspective in the wake of his father’s death from cancer in 2006.

“Just to be able to be with my family and get closer to my dad’s side of the family,” he said. “And you see these kids who are trying to get to where myself and Domata and Fanene are at, it just makes you realize you do have a lot to lose. You do have people looking up to you. You can’t take it for granted. It’s a right; it’s not a privilege to be playing. I just have to take every day like it’s my last day and accept it and know there’s a lot of people out there trying to get to where I am.”

Now he’s trying for an ever higher spot.

The Pro Bowl.

“The only person that can stop me," he says, "is me,”

Full Article

Harvey Langi: Travels East to Compete

Running back Harvey Langi (Bingham, Utah/South Jordan) made the 2,560-mile trip to Coral Gables to compete at the event, which annually is among the most loaded Nike Football Training Camp.

He played quite well, earning running back MVP honors and displaying good hands and athleticism during the drills.

"Traveling here was the worst part," he said. "We had to stop in Atlanta and got mixed up on a couple of flights over there and flew in here Saturday morning, but coming here was worth it. I just wanted to come out here and check out the competition and the speed. The competition is wild. So many kids have so much talent. All my time here was worth it. They treated every individual special and coached all of us."

With the 6-2, 220-pounder's skill in the passing game, it's possible he could end up playing H-back or somewhere besides running back in college, which is fine with Langi.

"I just want to work on everything," said Langi, who might even play some defense this season. "If a coach needs something here, something there, I will go play it. I want a bunch of tools in my toolbox."

Langi holds offers from BYU, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Stanford, UCLA.

"I am going to go out and travel and see what I can do," Langi. "I always go to camp out west and see schools out there, but I wanted to come (to Miami) to see what the competition here was all about."

Four of Langi’s teammates have already committed to BYU -- Baker Pritchard, Kesni Tausinga, Manoa Pikula and Moses Kaumatule.

Those close to Langi say he wants to wait at least a few more months before deciding, but already it appears that he’s going to be the most-recruited player in the state this year.

Full Article

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Haloti Ngata: Raven For Life?

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has made it clear that defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will be next in line for a big pay-day.

It's been assumed for a couple of years now that the Ravens are interested in locking up Ngata to a long-term deal, but Harbaugh's comments finally confirm those thoughts.

Ngata is considered one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL because of his ability to clog up the middle and take on blockers.

His work up front allows the linebackers, especially Ray Lewis, to run free from sideline to sideline and make tackles. It also frees up fellow lineman to get blocked one-on-one and have a better chance at getting to the quarterback.

The team does hope that Ngata will develop into a better pass rusher, an area that fans and media alike have criticized the athletic defensive tackle.

It will be interesting to see if the process of signing Ngata to a long-term deal becomes as muddled as that of Terrell Suggs, the last Ravens player to get a big deal.

Suggs was hit with the franchise tag two years in a row before the Ravens were finally able to hammer out a deal with the pass rusher just before the deadline to sign extensions.

Some of the problems with Suggs' negotiations was the concern that he hadn't yet blossomed into one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. There were also maturity concerns about the playful Suggs, and both issues made the team reluctant to fork over a huge deal.

The same concerns really don't exist with Ngata, and Vince Wilfork's recent contract extension will likely serve as a good guide for the Ravens and their Pro Bowler when it comes time to get a deal done.

Full Article

Manumaleuna Owes Succes to Dad

You can't tell Brandon Manumaleuna's story without starting with his father, because the proud Samoan football legacy that Brandon brings to Chicago starts with him. So, before you can begin to know the mammoth tight end the Bears signed on the first day of free agency, you first must realize what happened at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 7, 1974.

Less than a month after President Nixon resigned, UCLA linebacker Frank Manumaleuna was named Chevrolet Player of the Game after being credited with 25 tackles in a 17-17 tie with Tennessee. But that isn't the most amazing part. What makes it such a memorable performance even after all these years is that Frank was a true freshman playing in his first collegiate game.

Sadly, it also would be his second-to-last -- or so it seemed after the devastating diagnosis of a spinal condition.

''He was the finest linebacker I ever coached at any level,'' ex-UCLA and longtime former NFL coach Dick Vermeil said. ''He was physically mature as a freshman and a gifted athlete. He was unbelievably graceful -- but when he hit you, you went down. He was so strong, he didn't even flinch. He would've been an All-Pro linebacker.''

Today, it's Brandon, the son, who is having the type of career his father never had. Manumaleuna is the sort of tight end who rarely shows up in final statistics. At 6-2, 295 pounds, he was brought in primarily to help protect quarterback Jay Cutler and add toughness to the Bears' running game. The toughness he brings, and the perseverance that has allowed him to be an impact player despite averaging 12 catches per season during his nine-year career, is rooted in his father and the South Pacific islands of his ancestors.

''I would hear about him from other people when they found out who I was,'' Brandon said of his father. ''But he never talked about [his football career].''

NFL and college football players haven't always been American Samoa's leading export. Frank was one of the pioneers. He was 6 when his family moved to Southern California to be closer to a Shriners Hospital because Frank's older brother, John, had been disabled by polio. Despite the handicap, ''Big John'' became a mentor to kids in the neighborhoods where many Polynesians settled.

He urged Frank and others to use football as a means of obtaining a free education. Frank's talent made it an easy choice. He was one of the top recruits in the country when he chose UCLA.

''He lined up with the fourth team on his first day in pads as a freshman,'' said Dick Tomey, who coached Frank as a UCLA assistant and later coached Brandon at Arizona. ''After that practice, all the guys who played his position went to see [Vermeil] because they wanted to play another position. They realized this guy was tremendous.''

He suffered what he thought was a harmless stinger against Tennessee. Then it happened again. He would be diagnosed with what then was described as a congenital deformity of the spine, not unlike spinal stenosis. Because of the risk of paralysis, UCLA doctors would not clear him to play. His career appeared over.

''I thought it was a regular pinched nerve,'' Frank said. ''I had them in high school and kept playing. In the second game it happened again, and that's when they got serious. I thought I would sit out and get better, but as time went on I kept going to all these doctors and neurosurgeons. I got down. My parents said football wasn't important. They wanted me to go to school, but I wanted to play.''

His desire to play never waned. Unbeknownst to their parents, ''Big John'' later helped enroll him in a junior college, where he resumed his career. San Jose State later cleared him to play as long as he wore equipment that kept his head immobilized. Frank went on to become one of San Jose State's all-time greats, and although he played for the Chiefs for three seasons, those who remembered how he performed that day against the Volunteers said the apparatus he had to wear to protect himself robbed him of much of his athleticism.

''He was never the same,'' Vermeil said.

You won't hear any bitterness in Frank's voice when he talks about the career he wishes he had, and he's not reliving his dream through Brandon -- not while he had 10 other children to raise, including five boys who played football at the high school level.

He's just glad Brandon has received the opportunity to play uninhibited by straps, collars and the constant fear of a life-threatening injury.

He's just thankful his son is having the type of career he was denied.

''I did whatever I could just to have the opportunity to play at that level,'' Frank said. ''Looking back on it now, it could've been great if [the injury] never would have happened.''

Full Article

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Notre Dame Coach Expects More From Manti Te'o

New Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly didn't mince words today when he spoke about linebacker Manti Te'o: He expects Te'o to be a leader on defense who has to "get much better as a football player."

Te'o, a Punahou School alum from La'ie, was fourth on the team in tackles last season as a freshman.

"(Te'o's) got to get much better as a football player," Kelly said after the team's first spring practice in South Bend, Ind. "He wasn't very good (last year) and he understands that. He's been committed to learning. Remember, he hasn't been here a year. He's a freshman."

Kelly, who replaced Charlie Weis who was fired after last season, said Te'o and Kapron Lewis-Moore have emerged as leaders for the Irish.

"There's probably been four or five guys defensively that have said immediately, 'Coach, whatever it is, let's go get it done,' " Kelly said. "I think the rest of that leadership takes time to develop. 
But those guys (Lewis-Moore and Te'o) in particular were right there at the very first day."

Kelly said he likes the energy Te'o brings "on a day-to-day basis.

"He's got that excitement, that passion," Kelly said. "Those are the guys I want to be around.

"So I just love the energy that he brings and the passion that he wants to be a great player. If you write the prescription for a coach … Who do you want to coach? Get a guy like that. That's fun."

Kelly led Cincinnati to a 12-0 regular-season finish before taking the job at Notre Dame, which fired Weis after the Irish went 6-6 in the regular season for a second straight year. Notre Dame last won a national title in 1988.

If coach Kelly is expecting more than what was illustrated in these few highlights of Manti's freshman year, we are in for something truly special. The "Freight Train" from the 808 will be one to jump on, if your not already on the Te'o Bandwagon. "All aboard!"

Full Article

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hoomanawanui Builds on Favorable Impression

It was like American Idol for Illini football players Wednesday.

A big stage, a live crowd including friends and family and a panel of judges taking notes.

It was "Pro Day," where Illini senior football players were weighed, measured, tested and, in some cases interviewed, by a big group of NFL scouts and personnel people.

In some cases, players have been known to make lots of money at these showcases by posting fast running times, demonstrating surprising strength during bench press drills or by flashing unexpected talent in position drills.

Others have lost money, dropping on the draft charts because their "measureables" did not match preconceived notions.

For tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, it was a chance to build on a favorable impression he'd already made at the Combine.

Hoomanawanui bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times at the Combine, third best among tight end prospects. He did not run, however, due to a pulled quad muscle he sustained at the Senior Bowl.

On Wednesday, Hoomanawanui, who weighed in at 263 pounds, ran the 40 in 4.83 seconds and showed well in pass-catching drills.

"Today was good," he said. "There are a lot of guys who wish they were doing what we are. I felt good and I thought I did a good job."

Today he holds a private workout for the Cleveland Browns. Upcoming are workouts for the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills.

So where does he think he stands in the big-picture draft?

"It gets more confusing as you go," he said. "I've talked to my agent and I want to know. My mom wants to know. My dad wants to know.

"All of it is part of the experience and I'm going to take it and enjoy it. If I get drafted, I get drafted. If I go free agent, I go free agent. All I want is a shot. Put me on a team. I don't care where it is, I'll work my way in."

Hoomanawanui said he has talked with former Illini players like Decatur's Brit Miller and J Leman, who were undrafted free agents, and they told him to hang in there, stay on his toes and do his best. The rest will take care of itself.

Full Article

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Troy Polamalu Packs The Harrisburg Mall For Autograph Signings

Steeler Nation was out in full force, decked in black, bright yellow and white garb to honor one of its heroes.

And when the five-time NFL All-Pro strong safety Troy Polamalu came down the escalator outside Big Bass Pro Shop at the Harrisburg Mall, the throng of fans showed appreciation with a deafening ovation.

Polamalu was in town to sign autographs for the IUP Alumni Sports Card Show, which ends today at the Harrisburg Mall. For $155 a pop, one of the league's best signed helmets and pictures. An additional $60 got a jersey signed. Proceeds benefited Harrisburg-area students attending IUP.

But price didn't matter. Not to these diehards, who sold the event out by purchasing all 820 tickets available for the signing.

"It was worth it," Tom Geiser, of New Cumberland, said. "Besides, the money goes to charity and if you go online and get a signed jersey, it is $200. Plus, we got a chance to meet him and that means a lot more."

Geiser, who has 12 Steelers jerseys, held son Konnor in his arms. His wife Jessamy, who was wearing a home black Polamalu jersey, had a white No. 43 jersey, which will be framed and hung on the wall, in her arms.

This was a chance for Jessamy to not only see a Steelers player up close, but her favorite player in the NFL.

"He is so hot," Jessamy Geiser said. "I just wanted to touch his hair, but I guess he had it up so the women wouldn't grab it.

"He is such a good player. It was horrible that he didn't play last year. We could have gone to the Super Bowl if he would have played. But we do have next year."

Polamalu suffered an injury to the medial cruciate ligament in his knee in the Steelers opener against Tennessee. He missed four games before returning against Cleveland. Later in the season, he tweaked his posterior cruciate ligament against Cincinnati, which ended his season.

The Steelers missed Polamalu's presence in the secondary for 11 games. The team dropped to ninth in the league against the pass and lost five straight games in the middle of the season, blowing leads in each of the losses.

"The team wasn't really that good with him not in there," said 10-year-old Shelby Benner of Halifax. "It was really cool to see him. This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me."

Benner said she has been watching football since she was little with parents Terry and Lisa. She is a cheerleader and was so nervous about meeting Polamalu that she was shaking before and after she went through the line.

Like many of the fans lined up in anaconda fashion, Benner respects the way Polamalu plays the game. They love his big hits and playmaking ability that has netted him 20 career interceptions and 452 tackles.

Countless flashbulbs went off as Polamalu, who refused to grant interviews to the media, signed everything from old USC Trojans gear, to Super Bowl apparel and even a three-foot bobblehead that was purchased by Harrisburg's Tim Dunchock.

"I went to a Pittsburgh game and was looking for Pittsburgh Steelers stuff when I found this," said Dunchock, who paid $525 for the statue. "He is my favorite player, and you definitely see how good he is because that defense was nothing without him last year.

"It was an automatic no-brainer coming here to get him to sign it. You see these guys on the field, but it's a great experience getting to meet him. It's hard to describe how it feels."

Full Article

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stephen Paea is a Freak of Nature

OK, this just blew my mind.

The extraordinary raw strength of Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea.

Just see for yourself.

In the video, Paea bench presses 225 pounds 44 times.

44 times! Are you kidding me!

The NFL combine record is 45 repetitions, which is shared by three players, including former Arkansas offensive lineman Mitch Petrus this year.

I got $5 that says Paea gets 50 next spring.

Paea is the 2009 Morris Trophy winner, which is given annually to the most outstanding offensive or defensive lineman in the Pac-10.

And it's fair to say that he may be the strongest player in college football.

Full Article

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tyson Alualu Impressive Thus Far

Tyson Alualu, a defensive tackle from Cal, is the kind of player who offers an intriguing range of possibilities in the middle to late rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.

Alualu is a 6-foot-2, 295-pound player who offers athleticism and the ability to pretty much play all across the defensive line. About the only place he doesn't seem to fit would be as a 3-4 nose tackle, since he is much too small.

Alualu has a reputation as a hard-working, never quit kind of player.

So, let's take a closer look at Alualu in today's Daily NFL Draft Prospect Profile.

Tyson Alualu Scouting Reports


From SB Nation's Mocking The Draft.

Has seen plenty of action inside and out, left and right. Even spent some time standing up as a rush linebacker. Can be a fit for any scheme because of his natural size and above average athleticism in tight space.

One game tape watched on Alualu, and it is hard not to fall in love with the his style of play. He may lack size, speed, and explosion but the motor he plays with cannot be topped. He is giving 100% on each play no matter the situation or opponent, something that most defensive lineman cannot say. Another attractive portion of Alualu’s game is his ability to play all spots along the defensive front. 

His best fit may come as defensive end in a 3-4 scheme where he has the technician type approach and is also very difficult for one blocker to keep at bay. He has the athleticism that a coach can use in creative packages, as seen in his ability to rush the edge as well as drop in to coverage via the zone blitz. The players that produce consistently despite the physical shortcomings are always worth a second look. Alualu is wise beyond his years and will enter the league with more maturity than the normal rookie. His set of intangibles is what coaches look for when searching for those vital role players, and he should get his name called before the end of round 3.

From DraftAce.

Excellent athlete for an interior lineman. Very active and plays with a motor that never dies. ... Doesn't have elite size.

He'll ace all his interviews with teams and win over a lot of coaching staffs with what he brings to the locker room. Given his lack of elite size, some teams may not consider him a fit for their system. He would be an ideal fit as a three-technique tackle in a 4-3 scheme, or potentially a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

From the National Football Post.

A tweener who played the five-technique defensive end spot as a senior, Alualu projects as a three-technique guy in the NFL. His versatility, however, allows him to play as a base defensive end on run downs. Displays a great motor, works hard in pursuit and plays until the whistle. Exhibits good range inside and has the athleticism to get after the ball, consistently making plays off his frame.
One of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the country, Alualu has the ability to shed blocks and make plays in the run and pass game. He will definitely add some versatility to a defense.

Full Article

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mike Iupati's NFL Draft Story

Iupati has come a long way in a short time. He was born in Samoa. He was 14 when his family moved to the United States. He never played football until he was in high school. He enrolled at Idaho as a Prop 48 recruit, but by the time he was a senior he was the top lineman in the Western Athletic Conference.

Big and nasty are the words most often used to describe him. Some people wonder about the competition Iupati faced in the WAC. He was dominating the opposition, but what does it mean if the opposition is Hawaii and San Jose State? Iupati heard the questions, but didn’t let it bother him.

“I never had any doubts,” he said, referring to his ability. “I know it was a small conference, but I love to compete. I’ll compete with anybody.”

Iupati played his best against the better teams such as Boise State and Fresno State. He played well against Southern Cal in his first varsity start. He also made a strong impression last month at the Senior Bowl when he went up against the top players in the country.

At the Senior Bowl, the coaches moved Iupati from left guard, the position he played all through college, to right guard and also left tackle. The pros wanted to see how he looked at different positions. Many scouts feel Iupati has the athletic ability to play left tackle in the NFL which would obviously enhance his draft status.

Typically, guards are not selected high in the draft. The last time a guard was taken in the top 20, it was Virginia’s Branden Albert who was selected 17th overall by Kansas City in 2008. But the Chiefs drafted Albert with the intention of moving him to left tackle. Some teams have similar thoughts about Iupati.

How would he handle the switch? At the Senior Bowl, he was beaten a few times in pass protection and reacted by clutching and grabbing. He also knocked D’Anthony Smith, a defensive end from Louisiana Tech, flat on his back in a one-on-one drill. It was a mixed bag, but most scouts gave Iupati high marks overall.

“I need a little time with it,” Iupati said, talking about mastering the tackle position. “I’m naturally aggressive. I like to come out of my stance and deliver a punch. Pass blocking, you have to be patient. I’m learning that. But I’m a good enough athlete, I know I can play out there.”

Told that tackle, especially the blindside tackle, was now a glamour position, Iupati said he was aware of that.

“That’s where the money is,” he said with a smile.

With that in mind, Iupati has enlisted the services of Jackie Slater, a Hall of Fame tackle who played 20 seasons for the Los Angeles Rams. Slater spent the past month working with Iupati on his technique and footwork, teaching him the fine points of playing tackle in the NFL.

There is no doubt with his size and strength that Iupati could play guard in the pros. He could also step right in at right tackle, which is more of a power position. But it takes a different skill set to play left tackle, a player who is strong and also light on his feet. He has to take on speed rushers like Trent Cole and DeMarcus Ware of Dallas and win those one-on-one battles.

Iupati has all the tools, but he will face an adjustment period if he moves to left tackle. However, if the Eagles were to draft him, it wouldn’t be an issue because they already have their left tackle in Jason Peters. They could put Iupati at either right guard or right tackle and make themselves better immediately.

But most draft analysts don’t see Iupati staying on the board that long. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network thinks Iupati won’t make it past Pittsburgh at No. 18. The Steelers’ line has been leaking for awhile – 96 sacks allowed the last two years – so adding a player such as Iupati would make life much easier for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Iupati’s story is a good one. His parents came to the United States because they wanted to give their four children a chance at a better life. At the time, English was their second language. Mike still was struggling with it when he went to high school.

For a year, the family lived with an aunt in Anaheim, Calif. Actually they lived in the aunt’s garage. Later, they moved to a small apartment. “We lived paycheck to paycheck,” Iupati said. “It was hard.”

But Mike made a name for himself on the football field. He was recruited by Idaho but because of his poor English skills, his grades weren’t very good. He had the option of enrolling at Idaho as an academic non-qualifier with a chance to earn a scholarship after one year. There was one problem: he had to pay his own way the first year.

“I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to put that [hardship] on my family,” Iupati said, “but my parents insisted. They made so many sacrifices for me, I feel like I owe them everything. They are my inspiration.”

Full Article

Only 6 Poly's Drafted In 1st Round of NFL Draft Since 1970!

Only 6 players of Polynesian decent have been drafted in the 1st round of the NFL Draft since 1970 ,with the merger of the AFL and NFL.

The following players include:

  1. Atlanta Falcons
    1. 1977: Wilson Faumuina, San Jose State, DL

      1. Date of birth: June 11, 1954 (1954-06-11) (age 55)
        Place of birth: American Samoa
        Date of death: 1986
        Career information
        Position(s): Defensive lineman
        College: San Jose State
        NFL Draft: 1977 / Round: 1 / Pick 20
         As player:
        1977-1981 Atlanta Falcons
  2. Cincinnati Bengals
    1. 1979: Jack Thompson, Washington State, QB

      1. Date of birth: May 18, 1956 (1956-05-18) (age 53)
        Place of birth: Tutuila, American Samoa
        Career information
        Position(s): Quarterback
        Jersey №: 12, 14
        College: Washington State
        NFL Draft: 1979 / Round: 1 / Pick 3
         As player:
        Cincinnati Bengals
        Tampa Bay Buccaneers
        Playing stats at
  3. Seattle Seahawks
    1. 1979: Manu Tuiasosopo, UCLA, DT

      1. Date of birth: August 30, 1957 (1957-08-30) (age 52)
        Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
        Career information
        Position(s): Defensive lineman
        College: UCLA
        NFL Draft: 1979 / Round: 1 / Pick: 18
         As player:
        Seattle Seahawks
        San Francisco 49ers
        Playing stats at
  4. San Diego Chargers
    1. 1990: Junior Seau, Southern California, LB

      1. Date of birth: January 19, 1969 (1969-01-19) (age 41)
        Place of birth: San Diego, California
        Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 248 lb (112 kg)
        Career information
        College: Southern California
        NFL Draft: 1990 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
        Debuted in 1990 for the San Diego Chargers

        Career history
         As player:
        Career highlights and awards
        Career NFL statistics as of 2009
        Tackles     1,849
        Sacks     56.5
        Interceptions     18
        Forced fumbles     11
        Pass deflections     21
        Stats at
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
    1. 2003: Troy Polamalu, Southern California, S

      1. Date of birth: April 19, 1981 (1981-04-19) (age 28)
        Place of birth: Garden Grove, California
        Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) Weight: 207 lb (94 kg)
        Career information
        College: Southern California
        NFL Draft: 2003 / Round: 1 / Pick: 16
        Debuted in 2003 for the Pittsburgh Steelers

        Career history
         As player:
        Career highlights and awards
        Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
        Tackles     452
        Sacks     7.0
        INTs     20
        Stats at
  6. Baltimore Ravens
    1. 2006: Haloti Ngata, Oregon, DT

      1. Date of birth: January 21, 1984 (1984-01-21) (age 26)
        Place of birth: Inglewood, California
        Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Weight: 345 lb (156 kg)
        Career information
        College: Oregon
        NFL Draft: 2006 / Round: 1 / Pick: 12
        Debuted in 2006 for the Baltimore Ravens

        Career history
         As player:
        Roster status: Active
        Career highlights and awards
        Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
        Tackles     184
        Sacks     6.5
        INTs     3
        Stats at

Mike Iupati, Offensive Guard for Idaho, looks like #7 on the list to be drafted in the 1st round of the NFL Draft.  From various 2010 NFL Mock Drafts, and scouting reports, he is considered to be the #1 Offensive Guard in the 2010 NFL Draft class.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daniel Te'o-Nesheim Finds Spotlight on Washington Pro Day

Blame the alphabet.

It's the reason Daniel Te'o-Nesheim's performance at last month's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis wound up being overlooked.

Alphabetical order placed Te'o-Nesheim after Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh in the workout schedule at the combine, which meant that the NFL Network was showing replays of Suh's performance in individual drills instead of capturing Te'o-Nesheim's performance.

"I knew it was going to happen as soon as I saw who was in front of me," Te'o-Nesheim said.

So here's a thumbnail sketch of what happened: Te'o-Nesheim performed 29 bench-press repetitions at 225 pounds, and he was timed as fast as 4.73 seconds in the 40-yard dash, though his official time was not among the top 10.

Well, he was timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds at Washington's pro day on Wednesday, according to his agent. The scouts in attendance all had him in the 4.6s.

Where the 6-foot-4, 267-pound Te'o-Nesheim fits on an NFL roster remains a question. Those teams that run a 3-4 defense see him as an outside linebacker; those in a conventional 4-3 alignment see him as a defensive end.

What's becoming clear, though, is that he will fit somewhere in the NFL.

"The one thing I always want to say about him is amazing effort," Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I've never seen a guy work, practice, play the way he plays with the effort that he plays with. And it shows. That's why he's so productive. That's why he's the all-time sack leader in the history of this school."

In scouting terms, Te'o-Nesheim has great hips, which make him explosive when changing direction. NFL scouts use a three-cone drill to measure a player's agility and change of direction, and Te'o-Nesheim had the second-fastest time of any defensive lineman at the scouting combine.

Of course, not everyone got to see that. He was following Suh in that drill, after all, who cast quite a shadow in television coverage.

But Te'o-Nesheim has performed well enough to solidify himself as a player many now expect to be chosen in the draft along with linebacker Donald Butler, his Washington teammate, after the Huskies have not had a player drafted either of the past two years.

Full Article

Andrew Pulu Suspended Indefinitely

UW defensive end Andru Pulu has been suspended indefinitely from the University of Washington football team due to a violation of team rules, head coach Steve Sarkisian announced today in a statement just released by the school.

The release stated that the UW athletic department, nor the coach, will have any further comment on the matter.

The Times has learned that Pulu was allegedly involved in an altercation at an off-campus party late Saturday night in which another student was injured.

Times news reporter Sara Jean Green reports that after The Seattle Times requested a police report detailing an assault investigation involving Pulu, a redacted narrative of the incident was faxed to the newspaper with the names of the alleged suspect, victim and witnesses blacked out.

According to the report, a 22-year-old man was attacked after trying to break up a fight between two people he didn't know at a house party just north of the University of Washington campus early Sunday. He was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken nose and possible cheek fracture, according to the police report.

Police spokesman Det. Jeff Kappel said homicide detectives, who investigate all serious assaults, are actively working the case. No arrests have been made, he said.

An officer wrote in the report that he was dispatched to University of Washington Medical Center just after 3 a.m. Sunday and interviewed the 22-year-old man in the emergency room.

The 22-year-old told the officer that he was at a party in the 5000 block of 15th Avenue Northeast and saw a man in a verbal argument with another person just after 12:30 a.m., the report says. He tried to break up the fight, telling the man, "It's not that big of a deal," at which point the man grabbed the 22-year-old's neck, telling him, "It is that big of a deal," according to the police report.

The 22-year-old, who told the officer the man was a stranger to him, "does not remember anything after this occurred," the report says.

Two witnesses told a friend of the victim what happened and the friend took the victim to the hospital, the report says.

According to the witnesses, the man struck the 22-year-old in the face, knocked him to the ground, and stomped on the his right temple, causing him to lose consciousness, the police report says.

The man then "left in an unknown direction," according to the report. He is described as a light-skinned black male, 18 to 21 years old, 6-feet-1 tall and 250 pounds with a muscular build.

The 22-year-old "has a broken nose and possibly a fractured cheek bone," the officer wrote. "I observed severe swelling to the left side" of his face and "a boot print on his right temple."

Pulu, a graduate of Federal Way High, will be a sophomore in 2010 and was expected to contend for significant playing time, if not a starting role, as the team looks for replacements for the graduated Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Darrion Jones. He was listed as the backup to Te'o-Nesheim at the end of last season.

The 6-1, 251-pounder played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2009, making two tackles, and was credited with half-a-sack against Idaho. He also played regularly on the kickoff return team.

UW is set to begin spring practice on March 30.

Do you think Andrew Pulu should of got suspended "Indefinitely?"

Full Article

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maake Kemoeatu Is A Large Man

Six notes about nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu, the Redskins' newest free agent addition.

The Achilles

Kemoeatu tore his Achilles' tendon on the first day of training camp a year ago, and was on crutches for weeks, although he had some sort of gadget that was supposed to vacuum blood toward his ankle. As you can see above, he was just sort of running, without any contact, when the thing popped.

"I'm bummed out," he told reporters after getting hurt. "They're going to go in there and try and fix it up and see when I can come back. After surgery, they're telling me it will be four weeks at least. So maybe I'll be back for the last month of the season. Every little hope I have is that I'll be back out there with the boys."
Before the end of the week, though, the Panthers placed him on injured reserve, ending his season.

The Size

Kemoeatu is usually listed at 345 pounds, but he has often spoken of himself as "360-plus" in the past. That's evidently what he weighed last fall, when he told the Charlotte Observer he was working with a nutritionist to try to drop 30-40 pounds, largely by eating more fruits and vegetables.

"I'm trying not to eat as much, so I won't have to take off as much," he told the paper. "I've been staying away from the steakhouses. Ruth's Chris and Del Frisco's - I won't see them again until 2011!"

"It's tough," he added. "I come from a family where we get big. The older we get the bigger we get."

Even before his injury, in 2006, he told South Carolina's The Herald that he was over 360.

"I'll be honest with you," quarterback Jake Delhomme told the paper. "He's the biggest human being I've ever seen in my life."

The Herald reported that Kemoeatu wore a size 54 jersey and the largest helmet size available, and that the interior pads of his helmet still had to be shaved down to fit his noggin.

The Passion

He was known for his silence during his college career at Utah, but by his senior year, Coach Ron McBride --who said the nose tackle didn't speak for about three years -- finally convinced Kemoeatu to liven up in the locker room. At that point, he became known for his pre-game ritual

"I'm just doing what the coaches tell me to do -- all the coaches. I'm going to start charging $5 apiece," Kemoeatu told the Deseret News. "I just get at [teammates], scream, hit people on the head. I don't really write out something to get ready for it. It seems to be good so far.

"I'm just trying to get all the guys fired up before the game, get the butterflies out of their stomachs. A lot of guys get nervous before the game, (so I try to) get it out of their system. Hey, it worked for me in high school, so I figured it would work again."

The Haka

Speaking of rituals, this is from the Baltimore Sun in 2002, Kemoeatu's rookie year:
Edwin Mulitalo had company Tuesday for what has become a Rookie Night ritual, his rendition of the "haka," a war dance rooted in the South Pacific. Maake Kemoeatu, a rookie from Utah trying to make the team as a defensive tackle, was born in Tonga and played scholastically in Hawaii.

"I heard that Mulitalo had always finished camp doing the New Zealand Maori war dance," Kemoeatu said. "I thought I would join him, finish off camp with a good note. I'd done it before back on the islands, and Ed said he liked having someone to do the haka with."
Maybe he can teach it to Haynesworth.

The Background

Kemo has three brothers who played Division I football, with Chris -- a guard for the Steelers -- the most accomplished on the field. Their father ran a construction business during their childhood, didn't want his kids playing football, kept them away from television, and stressed the value of hard work. Here, for example, is a tale from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
The proposed wall in question was four stories high. Too high and apparently too much for Chris Kemoeatu and older brother Ma'ake to help build.

Manako Kemoeatu gave his two oldest sons only two days to carry various supplies -- rocks, cement, water -- to the top of a steep hill so he could build the wall. On the second day, however, Chris and Ma'ake were both so exhausted they became convinced they couldn't finish their portion of a job that didn't pay very well in the first place.

That isn't the point, Manako told his sons. If you don't finish, how will we feed our family with the money I'm supposed to earn for building the wall? He made them a promise: If they somehow completed the Herculean task, any other challenges they faced in life would seem small by comparison. Somehow, Chris and his brother finished the job, lugging the remaining supplies to the top of the hill. The wall was built."
Not sure if this is a parable or if it actually happened.

The Chef

The Tribune-Review also reported that Maake and Chris head back to Hawaii in the offseason, where the custom is for the men to do all the cooking.

"In keeping with that tradition, Chris prepares huge feasts with Ma'ake consisting of wild pigs, cows and chickens that they personally hunt and cook outside on wooden poles," the paper reported.

The brothers also still speak Tongan in their parents' home. Not sure yet how to say "wild pig on a wooden pole" in Tongan, but I'll try to find out.

Full Article

Friday, March 12, 2010

Maika Polamalu Making A Name For Himself

Everyone knows his last name.

And, that alone, has produced expectations and pressure, especially considering that Maika Polamalu may even play the same position in college as his famous cousin.

The thing is, the Pottsgrove High junior has a football role model in his own house. His father, Aoatoa Polamalu (He goes by Ao, which sounds like "Al"), was a starting defensive tackle on the Nittany Lions' national title team in 1986.

His uncle, Kennedy Pola, is now the running backs coach for the Tennessee Titans.

And, of course, his cousin Troy Polamalu is an all-pro safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Maika Polamalu is doing his best to make a name for himself.

Schools such as Penn State and Villanova have shown interest, but he's still waiting on his first written scholarship offers.

"I tell you what, I feel bad for the young man," his father said. "Everybody thinks he's the next Troy. People need to relax and let the kid get better in his own skin. . . . Those who think he should be more have their opinions. It ticks me off at times. I wish they'd just treat him as a junior in high school."

Said Maika: "It was tough as I grew up, but as I matured the pressure eased off, and I realized that I'm my own person and not him."

Certainly, the kid has skills and potential.

He's started since his freshman year on a team with at least two other big-time talents and is now a star running back and linebacker. He may be interested in trying to play college football in California, where his father and aunts and uncles grew up after leaving American Samoa.

For now, he's not sure where things are headed.

"He's big, he's physical . . . almost like a freak of nature," said Rick Pennypacker, his coach at Pottsgrove High. "He's big and strong and runs like a deer.

"But everybody thinks he's Troy Polamalu, and he's not. . . . Everybody compares him. Right away, everybody wants to talk about Troy. Everybody in our school wants Maika to get autographs of Troy, everybody wants Troy to come to our school. The kid just needs to be himself."

His best attribute?


"Not another person Penn State recruits works as hard as this kid," Pennypacker said, noting his two hours of daily speed and strength training.

And if the scholarship offers do line up as expected in the coming months, he will have an interesting choice:

Stay close to home, maybe at his father's alma mater? (Ao Polamalu was noticed by the Lions' staff while they were recruiting his brother, Kennedy).

Or he could head out West, where he was born, where much of his large family still lives and where he could truly be immersed in his heritage.

"I think Maika missed out on a lot of that. . . . I learned everything from my brothers and sisters about my heritage," said his father, the youngest of 11 kids.

"Taking him to a reunion, he's amazed. It's really neat seeing him smile, realizing that he's part of such a family."

Full Article

Monday, March 8, 2010

1st Northern California Polynesian Bowl 2010

If the apparent success of the original is any indication, there will likely be a sequel.

The inaugural Polynesian Bowl, pitting all-star teams of graduating seniors from the Bay Area (south of the Carquinez Bridge) and the North Valley (Solano County, North Coast and Sacramento Valley) at Rodriguez High's Coach Ed Hopkins Memorial Stadium was an unqualified success.

Raising money for (PAIA) Polynesian Athletes in Action, the game attracted fans and family members from all across Northern California, packing the home side bleachers in the stadium and lining the street with cars.

On the field, the Bay Area team won a spirited game 16-6, putting it out of reach with a third-quarter touchdown.

A handful of Fairfield players with Polynesian backgrounds as well as some of their friends who were invited to the game were on the field, and all said it was a great time playing against family and friends from all over.

"It's like a Polynesian Super Bowl," said Sioeli Pulu-Katoa, a fullback/linebacker from Valley Christian-San Jose.

The game is the first of its kind in California, modeled after the Hawaii/Polynesia-Mainland Bowl.

Leading the Bay Area team, which is coached by Fremont-Oakland's Isamu Falevai, is the Oakland Athletic League MVP and first-team All-East Bay defensive end Sione Tupouata. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Tupouata, also of Fremont, is headed to Utah next season.

But Tupouata isn't the only star for the Bay Area. The backfield features two of the top rushers from San Mateo County in Jared Puamau of Mills and San Mateo's David Rango, both of whom ran for more than 1,350 yards last season.

"I'm just thankful for the opportunity," Puamau said.

The Valley roster is highlighted by Eureka's Soma Vainuku, a USC-bound fullback who rushed for 2,202 yards last season.

 Football has become deeply rooted in the Polynesian culture, featuring such NFL stars as Troy Polamalu and Junior Seau.

"It's a big thing in my family," Pulu-Katoa said. "I have a whole lot of relatives who have been there, who played at the next level."

Sequoia's Vincenzo Makasini, a 6-foot-5, 400-pound lineman, originally didn't like football but was pushed into it by his family. By his junior year of high school, he enjoyed himself.

"I like being forced to do stuff," Makasini said.

Vanden High running back Damon Treat, whose grandparents hail from the Big Island of Hawaii, played for the North Valley team and said the game was a blast.

“It was a lot of fun,” Treat said. “There's a lot of family out here just playing hard and doing what we love to do.”

Treat also said it was a good chance to play in front of a home crowd once more before he heads off to Minnesota's St. Cloud State in the fall.

Also on offense for the North valley team was Rodriguez quarterback Myles King.

“It was a fun game, I think they should definitely keep it going each year,” King said, adding that the competition was tougher than any he had faced.

“The Bay Area, I respect them at a whole different level now,” he said. “It was intense, those are the biggest dudes I've ever played against in my life.”

King wasn't the only one in awe of the visitors on Saturday as his teammate Konner Bent wasn't even sure he wanted to play when he was initially invited because of the enormity of the opposing players.

“But I figured I'm going to play in college, and in college the dudes are going to be big, so it was good experience,” Bent said.

On the turf, Bent said there was some contentious moments, but that it's all just part of the game.

“There was some trash talking on the field, but there's always going to be trash talking in football,” bent said. “We're all friends now, and it was a lot of fun.”

Bay Area roster:
QB/S Joe Latu (Mt. Eden), RB/S Ben Pomele (Milpitas), FB/DT Mailau Puamau (Fremont-Oakland), RB/LB Ivan Nisa (Fremont-Oakland), WR/CB Antwan Striplin (Mt. Eden), RB/CB David Rango (San Mateo), FB/OLB Maloni Hausia (Mt. Eden), RB/LB Sifa Vea (Milpitas), RB/LB Taukei Taimani (San Mateo), WR/CB Andrew Tokomata (Castlemont), FB/LB Bo Pita (Aragon), RB/LB Aoese Noa (San Lorenzo), RB/LB Apera'amo Amira (Encinal), FB/OLB Sioele Pulu-Katoa (Valley Christian-San Jose), RB/S Jared Puamau (Mills), TE/DE Pila Puafisi (Oakland), RB/DE Sione Tupouata (Fremont-Oakland), TE/DE Iosia Iosia (Aragon), OL/DL Sinilau Tauteoli (Fremont-Oakland), OL/DL Amerika Mane (Milpitas), FB/LB Nolan Lealao (James Logan), OL/DT William Fukofuka (San Lorenzo), OL/DL Seth Magalei (Heritage), FB/LB Alfred Tafuna (San Lorenzo), OL/DL Carrington Reys (Heritage), OL/DL Vincenzo Makasini (Sequoia), OL/DL Semisi Mataele (Menlo-Atherton), OL/DT Alepate Faletau (Menlo), OL/DT Kapono Mataituli (Marshall-S.F.), OL/DT Taniela Musika (Milpitas).

Valley roster:
QB/S Myles King (Vailoatai-American Samoa), RB/LB Soma Vainuku (Eureka), FB Jamon Archie (Burbank-Sacramento), WR/DB DeAngelo Thurman (Will C. Wood-Vacaville), TE/LB Folo'i Vae (Edison-Stockton), FB/LB Faga Tuamasaga (Vailoatai-American Somoa), RB/DB Andre Loafea-Carter (Cordelia), WR/DB Keanu Henry (Vailoatai/Fagasa-American Samoa), RB/LB Samson Tofelogo (Fairfield), DB Steve Jones (Laguna Creek-Elk Grove), QB/S Konner Bent (Cordelia), WR/KR Deondre Batson (Laguna Creek), WR/DB Ray Ledoux (Vailoatai-American Samoa), DL Victor Amerson (Burbank-Sacramento), WR/KR Jordan Morrow (Cordelia), RB/DB Brandon Justin (Will C. Wood-Vacaville), WR/DB Alex Hubbard (Fairfield), FB/LB Hercules Tofelogo (Fairfield), WR/DB Damon Treat (Big Island-Hawaii), OL/DL Sione Sina (Monterey Trail-Elk Grove), FB/LB Ryan Corpuz (Will C. Wood-Vacaville), OL/DL Ben Fanene (Vallejo), OL/DL Patisela Ale (Galileo-S.F.), RB/LB Kalamani Fili (Monterey Trail-Elk Grove), TE/DE Daniel Sungavaka (Hogan-Vallejo), DE Lyman Faoliu (Vallejo), OL/LB Donavan Robinson (Cordelia), LB Freddie Rincon (Will C. Wood-Vacaville), OL/DT Iosua Oakley (Franklin-Elk Grove), OL/DL Sione Fanaika (Florin-Sacramento), OL/DL Ace Delos Reyes (Florin-Sacramento), OL/DL Felix Isom (Burbank-Sacramento), OL Lelefu Vui (Burbank-Sacramento), OL/LB Mick Hobart (Franklin-Elk Grove), WR/DB Mike Ha (Florin-Sacramento).

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