Warriors get a workout
Second chances come in many forms. University of Hawaii football players with professional aspirations got one Thursday.
A total of 14 Warriors who were seniors on the 2006 team that went 11-3 displayed their skills for NFL scouts and player personnel decision-makers at a Pro Timing Day exclusively for UH.
For several players, the session at the Home Depot workout facility in Carson, Calif., was an opportunity after not performing well at the NFL Combine last month in Indianapolis.
"I most definitely feel like I redeemed myself," said offensive lineman Tala Esera, who was sick at the combine. "I had a stomach flu and was cramping up that day."
Esera said he made sure to drink plenty of orange juice and watch his diet in the weeks leading up to Thursday's Pro Day.
The highlight of his workout was 7.35 seconds in the "L Drill," an agility test involving running around cones, according to his agent, Max Hannemann.
"Everything went well," Esera said.
Former offensive and defensive lineman Reagan Mauia also may have improved his stock.
"Reagan got down to 272 pounds. He lost 30 pounds since the Hula Bowl (in January)," said Hannemann, who also represents Mauia. "They did very well for themselves. Their hard work paid off."
Six offensive line coaches put Esera, Samson Satele and Dane Uperesa through workouts.
"It's always a good sign when position coaches show up," Hannemann said. "There were so many of them it took about an hour and a half."
UH defensive backs coach Rich Miano is also the Warriors' NFL liaison, and he coordinated the event. He said many of the Hawaii players helped their stock in the April 28-29 NFL Draft, and some relatively unknown guys may have earned themselves shots as free-agent training camp invitees.
Cornerback Kenny Patton missed most of last season with a broken collarbone. But he was in fine shape Thursday and opened some scouts' eyes.
"I knew he was a great athlete, as good as anyone in the country. He jumped 41 1/2 inches, as good as anyone in the country," Miano said.
Patton also was timed at under 4.5 in the 40 on a slow FieldTurf track.
Safety Leonard Peters didn't improve his 40 time all that much after a slow time at the combine, but revealed the reason why. He is coming back from an Achilles' heel injury he suffered just before the combine.
Peters was clocked at around 4.7 by one scout, meaning he might be a better fit as an outside linebacker than a safety in the NFL.
"Maybe not, though," a scout said. "A lot of people thought the same thing about Aaron Francisco (a Kahuku High school alumnus, like Peters) when he didn't time well, but he's turned out to be a great safety (for the Arizona Cardinals)."
Miano said the team that drafted him in 1985, the New York Jets, showed a special interest in Peters.
"(Head coach) Eric Mangini sat down with him, told him come to New York. They liked him on film. He improved his time, but he can still get faster," Miano said. "He's just now getting back to being healthy."
Patton's great workout might not get him drafted because of injuries and other questions.
"You'd think it would, but probably not," Miano said. "It will get him into a camp. You'd hope they all get into a (NFL) camp. It's not going to happen, but they will all definitely get to play at the next level."
For some, it will mean opportunities in the CFL or arena football.
Short yardage: Punter Kurt Milne is one of the few UH seniors who didn't go to the Pro Day. Milne was scheduled to attend a pro workout for kickers and punters in Reno, Nev. ... UH sophomore Erik Pedersen will be back at safety when spring practice starts Monday. He played in several games as a reserve inside linebacker last fall.
Here are observations of a veteran NFL scout who saw UH play several times over the course of these players' careers. He was also at Thursday's Pro Day in Carson, Calif. His team does not allow him to be identified.
FIRST-DAY DRAFT (ROUNDS ONE TO THREE)
Ikaika Alama-Francis DE/TE
"He has a true defensive end type of body. The thing on him, he's just raw, a lot of upside. They did throw the ball to him (at the Pro Day), but I'm a little bit more (inclined to believe) he's a defensive end. He might be a little heavy in the 280s. If he's going to be a defensive end, I think he can get away with 265, or 270. If you sat in everyone's draft room, it's all over the place. The buzz out there is first-day guy. Second or third round."
Samson Satele C/G
He has really short arms, but I never saw it affect his play. I really like Samson, he's my favorite. I love talking to him. He's a 'I'll show you' kind of guy. I think he's a swing guy, can do both center and guard for you. He could be a real good center, and as a guard he's ready to roll now."
SECOND DAY OR FREE AGENT
Tala Esera OT
"Pretty good drill work. I think he's got a real good shot at second day."
Nate Ilaoa RB
"I love watching this kid play. To me, Coach (June) Jones did a great job showcasing his strengths. I don't see him as a fullback, I see him as a true one-back guy. I think he has a 50-50 shot of getting drafted. Whoever takes him, they have a plan for him."
Leonard Peters S/LB
"He kind of talked about being injured, but was holding back on that to not make excuses. I think some team will love him on special teams. At safety, he gets a little bit out of position sometimes. Some teams are looking at him as a linebacker. Leonard is really good downhill when he sees the run. He gets exposed sometimes against the pass because he'll gamble."
Melila Purcell DL
"I thought he would run better. I had him at 5.2, 5.1, 5.15. At 6-5, 289 his measurables are good. Tackle? That's a good question. I think he's got a shot to get drafted.
Dane Uperesa OT
"This guy's hard to read. He looks great in drills, athletic. Kind of how you draw 'em up. Then you watch him play and you like the other guys. I don't know what's missing. I think it's 50-50 he's drafted."
PROBABLE FREE AGENT
Reagan Mauia FB
"Big man runs real well for his size. Teams that use a true fullback will be interested in him. His consistency as a blocker is a question, though. A lot of personal fouls in college.
Kenny Patton CB
"Kenny tested really well, but I don't know how much of it transfers onto the field. We will definitely be following up on him some more."
POSSIBLE FREE AGENT/CANADA/ARENA
Ross Dickerson WR/KR
"Being a return guy, that's what gave Chad Owens life. Ross didn't look very fast, but he made clutch catches. I don't like throwing guys out because of their 40s, but he was high 4.7s and 4.8. He did a real nice job in the shuttles and stuff."
Renolds Fruean DL
"Renolds tested OK, he's a big body guy. When they began to run around, it was a problem area. I don't know if I see him getting into camp."
Marques Kaonohi C/G
"Best on the bench with 37 reps ... He's the smallest of the linemen at 6- 1/2, 270. He has short arms that help on the bench but not in the game. Playing inside, arm-length is not as critical."
Chad Mock WR
"Didn't work out very well and didn't run very well."
Ian Sample WR
"Didn't run as well as I thought he would. He was in the mid 4.6, low 4.7 range. At 5-9 1/2 194, he'll be fortunate to get a free-agent look."
Lawrence Wilson DL
"He did 36 reps on the bench press. That could help him get into a camp as a free agent."