Alama-Francis’ draft stock is up
Ikaika Alama-Francis's stock is rising.
The Hawaii defensive end appeared on draft analyst Mel Kiper's "Big Board" yesterday, at No. 24. That doesn't mean Alama-Francis will be drafted that high (there are still tons of players to be analyzed after the bowl and all-star games and juniors to declare draft eligibility). But Kiper also said he thinks Alama-Francis will be picked in the first two rounds.
An NFL scout who has seen him play several times this year agrees.
"I turned in a second-round grade on him. If he goes to the combine and works out well, I may be too low," the scout said. "He's one of those guys you know what you see. The sky's the limit. He's big (6-6, 285), strong and athletic. And he's only going to get better and better."
Alama-Francis might be more productive in a four-player front than in UH's 3-4 alignment, the scout added.
"They play him inside. If you get him in space on the edge and let him come off the ball, he might be even better," he said.
The same scout grades Melila Purcell, UH's other defensive end, as a likely third- or fourth-round draft choice.
Alama-Francis and Purcell have Hula Bowl invitations. Alama-Francis is also drawing considerable interest from the East-West Shrine Game. It is also possible that he could get invited to the Senior Bowl -- the top college all-star game for prime prospects. UH center Samson Satele has accepted a Senior Bowl invitation.
Ready for a shootout: Most expect a lot of scoring when Arizona State plays Hawaii on Sunday in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. No matter what happens on Christmas Eve, ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter says he's ready.
"It's gonna have to be determined; if they're going to come out and score a lot of points, if they do that we're going to have to have a shootout," said Carpenter, who had the highest passer efficiency in the NCAA as a freshman last year at 175.01. This year, his numbers are more modest, which can be partially explained by an injury-decimated wide receiver corps. ASU currently uses two true freshmen, a second-year freshman and a sophomore in its receiver rotation.
Carpenter was inserted as the starter eight games into the 2005 season when Sam Keller injured his thumb. That year, ASU ended up having the nation's third-highest passing offense. Keller has since transferred to Nebraska.
"I think our defense will be able to (stop Hawaii). And if they can't, hopefully we can run the ball a little bit and play a normal football game and not get into a shootout," Carpenter said, then smiled. "If it's a shootout, I'm looking forward to it. I'm a quarterback, so it'll be fun for me."
Nice stocking stuffers: The Warriors received gifts from the Hawaii Bowl as well as from UH.
The players and team personnel received a package of gifts valued at around $500 from the Hawaii Bowl. The centerpiece item is a combination set of sunglasses and MP3 player.
The gift from UH is a digital camera valued at around $300.
Hawaii players also received per diem of around $200 for the week.
D-end commits: Defensive end Christopher Leatigaga (6-5, 270) of Foothills (Calif.) College committed to join the Warriors in 2007. He will have three years to play two.
"The only schools that offered were Hawaii, Portland State and Idaho," he said. "I talked with my parents and they said the best fit for me would be Hawaii. I have a lot of family members that live out there. I'll feel at home."
He said he's only been to Hawaii while stopped at Honolulu Airport on the way from American Samoa to California.
He said his best football attribute is his intensity.
"Just playing until the whistle. From the snap to the whistle. That's what they emphasize here. Finish the drill, finish the practice. I'm always running, trying to put myself on the screen."
Leatigaga will visit UH next month. He graduates in the spring.