STAR-BULLETIN FILE PHOTO
Former Hawaii defensive end Melila Purcell is doing whatever he can to make the Cleveland Browns as a rookie.
Ex-Warrior Purcell learning about life as an NFL hopeful
BEREA, Ohio » Whether he was going to be drafted into the NFL or arrive there via free agency, former Hawaii defensive lineman Melila Purcell was confident he would make it there.
So on NFL Draft weekend in April, he wasn't exactly glued to a TV set. His parents were in Honolulu and were headed back to Pago Pago, American Samoa, later that day.
"I wasn't worried about the draft or anything like that," he said. "I was at Anna Miller's at the time, eating with my parents.
"I was just sitting there, chilling with my family, having a good time, and thinking, 'If I get a call, I get it, and if not we'll just settle with free agency.' "
Then the Cleveland Browns called on Day Two of the draft, making him their sixth-round pick
"It felt good," he said. "It was the greatest feeling I ever had."
Today he finds himself in suburban Cleveland, about a half-hour's drive from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, for the second week of the Browns' voluntary offseason minicamp.
Purcell, a three-year starter for Hawaii, joins a team that went 4-12 last year, and a defense that ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed with just 28 sacks.
The 6-foot-6, 266-pound Purcell comes to Cleveland with 208 tackles and 19 sacks under his belt in college, but he knows that doesn't guarantee him a spot in the starting lineup, or even on the team.
Browns coach Romeo Crennel says it's hard to evaluate any of the young defensive linemen in minicamp, because the players are still in shorts and without pads.
"With the defensive linemen that we took on the second day we kind of figured those guys would be projects for us, and so far I think that's the case," Crennel said after yesterday's workout. "It's always hard to evaluate linemen in shorts. You cannot really evaluate linemen in shorts because that position is a position that there's contact on every play and it's hard to have contact here in shorts."
For Purcell, that means just working hard at whatever the coaches need him for, whether it's on the defensive line or special teams.
The Star-Bulletin caught up with former University of Hawaii defensive end Melila Purcell after a workout with the Cleveland Browns last week at the team's training facility. Purcell was selected in the sixth round of April's draft and has his work cut out for him to make the team:
Q: Did you know much about Cleveland, the Browns organization or the city itself before you got drafted?
A: No, not really. I heard good things about them. I never thought that they would consider me as one of their players, but I'm just happy to be here. There's a lot of great people here.
Q: What's minicamp been like?
A: It's good. I'm just learning from the vets and stuff, just asking them questions. They're giving me advice, telling me what to do. Basically, everything's just going fast and I'm just trying my best to keep up with the pace. But it's going pretty good.
Q: What's the biggest adjustment you've had to make?
A: I would say a lot of things. I'm just adjusting to the new environment and stuff like that -- the weather, the food, the people and everything, but it's been good. Some of the players who are used to playing in the pros, I talked with them and they said the speed of things just goes fast. If you slow down you're going to miss out on a lot of things. It's going fast so I'm just trying to stay in the meeting rooms, watching films and paying attention to my notes.
Q: How has your playing time in Hawaii helped prepare you for the league?
A: They do run similar things, but different terminology, different techniques. I'm into the system, but I just need to know it better.
Q: What sort of advice did your UH coaches give you?
A: They just told me to just go 110 percent. Don't look back on anything and don't have any regrets. Don't take it easy. This is a job interview for a lot of us so we've got to put up our best impression.
Q: Who's been the biggest help so far in minicamp?
A: Right now, everybody, the whole D-line has been a big part. If they see that something's wrong they'll come and tell me and tell me stuff I need to work on, like my footwork, they're teaching me a whole bunch of stuff so basically all the D-linemen and the coaches getting on me and telling me what I need to do.
Q: What's it like working with one of the league's up-and-coming stars in linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, who led the team with 11 sacks as a rookie last year?
A: It's cool. It was kind of hard working as a D-end with him, but he gives us advice so it's good that he's helping some of the new guys, too.
Q: What's it like being a rookie?
A: It's like the same thing as the first year in college. It takes time to get to know everybody. Right now, it's kind of hard. Basically, right now, I'm trying to take that starting role from someone else so it's a fight out here. It's a dogfight out here. But being a rookie is just the same old thing -- you've just got to do your part and just show up.
Q: What kind of goals are you setting for yourself?
A: Right now, I'm just trying to make the team -- that's the most important part. I'm trying to make the team and trying to help the team in whatever they need me to do. I'll do it. I know a lot of the guys, that's how they make the team is through special teams. I never got too much playing time on special teams in my life but right now I'm taking a couple reps.
Q: How much of an impact do you think you can have?
A: They told me, 'You've just got to show up.' So right now I'm just helping them out on special teams. They've already got guys for the D-line, but they need some guys to toughen up the special teams, so whenever they need me to go in, I'm just going to take that chance.