Tuesday, February 9, 1999
The Saints' linebacker fromBy Pat Bigold
Hawaii may be headed for the
new Cleveland Browns
Pac-Five alumnus Ink Aleaga is among 22 linebackers available in today's expansion draft to stock the roster of the Cleveland Browns.
"I look at it as an opportunity," said the recently married Aleaga yesterday from his home in New Orleans.
Aleaga played in 15 games last season and started three. He had 13 tackles (eight solo), including one sack.
The sack was of New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Aleaga had seven tackles in that game, but it didn't earn him any extra playing time.
Signed as a free agent out of Washington by the Saints on April 25, 1997, Aleaga made the practice squad in August and the active roster by October.
He was one of three Hawaii players on the Saints' roster in 1998. Defensive lineman Pio Sagapolutele, another Pac-Five product, and offensive lineman Chris Naeole (Kahuku) were the others.
Sagapolutele, an eight-year veteran who took Aleaga under his wing in New Orleans, said he doesn't think the Saints expect to lose Aleaga.
But he said getting drafted by Cleveland, where Sagapolutele played five years for the old Browns, might benefit Aleaga.
"He'd be going to a city with a rich football tradition," Sagapolutele said.
Don Botelho, the Pac-Five head coach who taught Aleaga and Sagapolutele the fundamentals of football, said, "Ink has a great nose for the ball."
Botelho said he hopes Aleaga gets to play for Cleveland because it would give him a chance to start with a clean slate and prove himself.
One factor on Aleaga's side might be the presence of Browns' pro scouting administrator Mike Maciszewski.
Maciszewski was a quarterback for Punahou while Aleaga was at Pac-Five in 1990. He is still a novice in NFL administration, and he has been specifically assigned to scout special teams players in the draft.
But he said he'll readily recommend Aleaga if the opportunity arises.
Maciszewski knows Alega well.
He recalls keeping the ball and trying to score from the 3-yard line in a game against Pac-Five during his junior season and being stopped by Aleaga.
"I thought that if I put my shoulder down and kept my feet moving, perhaps I would make it in," he said. "No. Ink and I met at the 2-yard line, and I didn't gain an inch."