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Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, May 9, 2000

N F L _ I S L A N D E R S

NFL Hawaii

Klemm carries
a big punch

The UH lineman,
drafted by the Patriots, is
related to Hall of Fame
boxer Billy Conn

By Pat Bigold


Adrian Klemm isn't the only heavyweight in his family tree to make the big time.

His grandmother's first cousin was the late Boxing Hall of Famer Billy Conn, who came close to beating Joe Louis at the Polo Grounds in New York in June 1941.

In the 13th round, Conn, who had a reputation as a fast and crafty fighter, abandoned his style and made the mistake of trying to slug it out with Louis. By the end of the round, Louis had finished off Klemm's ancestor and averted one of boxing's greatest upsets.

Like Conn, the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Klemm built his athletic reputation mostly on skill.

As a pass-blocking left tackle in June Jones's aerial offense, he relied on moves and agility rather than strength.

But unlike Conn, when the New England Patriots' first draft pick of the century is called upon to slug it out on running plays with the National Football League's heavyweights, he's likely to stay on his feet.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Hawaii heavyweight Adrian Klemm came out swinging last season.

"People say I'm a very aggressive player, and so that makes up for my lack of exposure to run blocking," Klemm said in a phone interview from his home in Indianapolis.

"Run blocking isn't like pass blocking, which is more skill. Run blocking is just being aggressive and staying after your block. If you don't know how to do that, well you can learn it easily."

Klemm was one of 35 players who participated in new head coach Bill Belichick's first mini camp last month and he came out of it with good marks.

Klemm has a good chance to earn the starting left tackle spot, replacing Pro Bowler Bruce Armstrong, a rehabilitating 14-year veteran. Armstrong has yet to be re-signed by the club.

The likelihood of Klemm winning the position is very high, according to former Patriots Pro Bowl special teams player Mosi Tatupu, now a videotape evaluator for New England.

Tatupu said he believes Klemm starting at left tackle could prolong the career of eight-year veteran Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Bledsoe.

"That blindside is a havoc if you're not fleet on your feet," Tatupu said. "I'd race Drew any day. He's getting up there."

Klemm said he was hoping to be issued No. 63, the number he wore for the Rainbows. But he wound up with No. 70 instead.

"They said it was because 63 belonged to a veteran lineman, and they're big on respect over there," Klemm said. "They said I could talk to a guy about it if it was a problem, but it's fine with me."

No. 63 belonged to left guard Heath Irwin, who signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins.

Klemm could wind up competing for Irwin's old spot if Armstrong re-signs and makes a successful comeback.

Although Klemm has indicated he hopes to sign soon, his agent, former Patriots and Houston Oilers linebacker Ralph Cindrich, said it's really too soon to speak publicly about money.

Cindrich, who also represents Dermonti Dawson and Mark Stepnoski, reportedly has had a strong working relationship with his old club. He said he might have something to say in a week or two.

"They're not going to fleece me and I'm not going to take advantage of them," said Cindrich.

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