Only 3 from Hawaii new to NFL this season
Euphoria swept through the University of Hawaii football program at the conclusion of the NFL Draft in April as five players were drafted and another five signed free-agent contracts.
But reality hit hard over the next four months as second-round draft choices Ikaika Alama-Francis of Detroit and Samson Satele of Miami and sixth-round selection Reagan Mauia of Miami, who will likely start next Sunday at fullback, were the only ones to survive through yesterday's final cut by NFL teams.
The latest casualties for UH were free-agent signees Dane Uperesa (Punahou School) of Cincinnati and fellow offensive lineman Tala Esera (Kahuku) of Miami, sixth-round draft choice Melila Purcell, who was a defensive end for Cleveland, and seventh-round choice Nate Ilaoa, a running back for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Several NFL veterans with island ties also were released yesterday by their respective teams. They were former Campbell receiver Cliff Russell of the Detroit Lions, Molokai's Kimo von Oelhoffen of the New York Jets, Tennessee defensive tackle Lauvale Sape (Leilehua) and former Kamehameha star Enoka Lucas, an offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There were three other former Hawaii players who signed free-agent deals in April and May released over the last few months. They were cornerback Kenny Patton of the Oakland Raiders, safety Leonard Peters (Kahuku) of the New York Jets and defensive tackle Lawrence Wilson (Farrington) of the Baltimore Ravens.
Perhaps the most surprising was the release of von Oelhoffen, who won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers two years back. The 14-year veteran from Boise State began his career with Cincinnati in 1994 and played for the Bengals for six seasons. He joined Pittsburgh in 2000 and played for the Steelers for another six seasons, before being picked up by the Jets in 2006. Von Oelhoffen had 354 career tackles and 26.5 sacks.