CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ikaika Alama-Francis is ready to play defensive end, outside linebacker, offensive tackle or tight end in the NFL. "Hey, I'll punt if they want me to," the 6-foot-5, 275-pounder said.
Hawaii's potential NFL Draft picks are ready for "the call"
Ikaika Alama-Francis might go fishing.
Dane Uperesa will coach his brother, Drew, at the Punahou Relays.
Most of the Hawaii-connected players who might be picked in the NFL Draft -- even the potential Saturday first-day selectees -- have no intention of sitting in front of a TV all day, either day.
"I'm just trying to lay low and relax. There's nothing I can do now," said Nate Ilaoa, who might be picked in the late rounds Sunday. "I don't plan on watching a lot, I'm just waiting to see what happens."
Not that they aren't excited. Alama-Francis -- the former Kalaheo basketball star who didn't play high school football -- knows his is one of the most intriguing stories of the draft.
He's 6-foot-5, around 275 pounds, and he's relentless and coachable. He played defensive end at UH, but he is such an astounding athlete that some coaches and GMs have other ideas.
Name a position. Chances are someone's told Alama-Francis he could play it in the NFL -- everything from outside linebacker to defensive tackle to tight end to offensive tackle.
"Hey, I'll punt if they want me to. The more you can do, the more valuable you are," Alama-Francis said. "I'm ready to do whatever they want me to do. I don't have a choice, anyway."
Alama-Francis's father, Joe Francis, is happy for his son, but also isn't letting the draft interfere with his life. His Saturday plans include an early round of golf and then attending his daughter's May Day celebration.
Joe Francis knows what his son is going through.
Well, sort of.
Francis, a Kamehameha star who went to Oregon State, was drafted in the fifth round of the 1958 draft by Green Bay (a little bit pre-Lombardi). His Packers rookie teammates included Dan Currie, Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke and Jerry Kramer. The draft wasn't on TV; he learned from his coach, Tommy Prothro, he'd been picked.
Ask Francis how much he got for a signing bonus, and he laughs.
"Such a thing didn't exist," he said. "I drove to Green Bay (from Corvallis, Ore.), paying my own way, and I negotiated a $10,000 contract for that first year. I was just excited about the chance to play pro football."
So is Ikaika, who will probably be picked somewhere from the second through fourth rounds, and pick up a signing bonus that dwarfs the first annual of his dad's injury-shortened NFL career.
"The thing about Ikaika is this is a big man who can run. And when you look at former basketball players, they usually don't bring the kind of force he does," said Frank Bauer, Alama-Francis' agent. "On film, he looks like he played football all his life, but he doesn't have any bad habits."
Samson Satele is also a probable first-day choice from among five or six possible UH draftees. Enoka Lucas, a Kamehemeha graduate who played at Oregon, could also go tomorrow. Both will probably be drafted as centers. Satele played a lot of guard at UH, and that could end up his NFL position.
Uperesa said he has been getting positive feedback lately.
"The good thing is I'm hearing from a lot of teams," said Uperesa, who is projected as a late second-day pick by most. But if a run occurs on tackles, Uperesa -- as well as Warriors linemate Tala Esera -- could move up. Players who can protect the quarterback's flanks are a commodity.
"Some of it is agents trying to build up competition between teams," Uperesa said. "You can't get your hopes too high or too low. I've just got to take it as excitement and nothing else."
Ilaoa was an extremely productive player last year, scoring 18 touchdowns while rushing for 990 yards and catching 67 passes for 837 more.
Esera's agent, Max Hannemann, said his client is more concerned about where he's going than in what round.
"A lot of teams are calling, telling him to be ready," Hannemann said. "He's just excited to know where he will end up. With a wife and three children a lot is riding on it for a lot of people."