One more NFL shot for UH hopefuls

Bobby Curran
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Friday - March 30, 2007
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Hardcore football fans are very familiar with the NFL combine. Staged annually in Indianapolis, NFL coaches, scouts and front-office personnel gather to watch draft eligible players perform in everything from 40-yard dashes and bench presses to personality tests and interviews.

A player’s stock can dramatically rise or fall depending on his results. A tremendous time in the 40 can propel a skilled player up a couple of rounds; if the jump is from the mid-second round into the front half of the first, the difference can be several million dollars.

The combine once was considered the best chance to impress NFL teams, but it is no longer the last chance. The rising importance of “pro days” - individual workouts at players’ schools - has changed the landscape considerably.


Many players, under the advice of agents, are opting out of some of the Indy events. The feeling is that a player will be more comfortable and consequently perform better surrounded by his teammates and coaches in a familiar environment than he would at the combine. Many players decline to run the 40, for example, until pro day. Others may opt out of agility or strength tests. Sometimes, players are unable to participate for other reasons; this year University of Hawaii players had a rough run of luck at the combine.

Dane Uperesa pulled a hamstring on his first 40-yard dash and couldn’t do other events. Tala Esera came down with the flu and couldn’t participate, and Ikaika Alama-Francis tore a pectoral muscle in the Hula Bowl, limiting him to interviews in Indianapolis. Inexplicably, Mel Purcell was not invited to the combine.


For these players, the pro day becomes their only chance to put up numbers for the pro scouts to analyze. For players like Samson Satele and Nate Ilaoa, who performed well at the combine, pro day allows them the chance to cherry pick some events to show improvement. And for Leonard Peters, who had an Achilles problem and underper-formed, it’s a chance to overcome poor test results.

Hawaii schedules its pro day at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., the day after USC holds its in Los Angeles.

“We know everybody will be there for the Trojans,“says Warrior head coach June Jones.“We did it last year knowing everyone would be there to watch Reggie Bush, so it made it convenient for them to catch our players.”

This year may be the best turnout yet for Hawaii’s pro day because of the large number of players with NFL potential.

“One of the scouts told us we might have the largest number of prospects on the West Coast,” says UH defensive backs coach Rich Miano. “And he was including USC.”


While this will be the last chance to work out for multiple teams at one time, for some of the former Warriors, it’s just the beginning of a hectic schedule right up until draft day in late April.

“I’m going to go visit six to eight teams,” says highly touted interior line prospect Samson Satele. “Anybody that’s interested and wants to meet me, I’m there.”

For many former UH players it may be their last, best chance at realizing the NFL dream.

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