Star-Bulletin Sports


Ta’amu gets call;
2 ex-Warriors sign

Jackson joins the Titans and
Kanoa the Falcons, while Harris
gets a deal to play ball in Canada

By Dave Reardon

It's no big surprise that Ed Ta'amu was chosen in the NFL Draft yesterday. But the Iolani School graduate from Kalihi didn't expect to get the call from the Minnesota Vikings.

They picked the Utah guard in the fourth round with the 132nd overall pick.

"Kind of crazy. After the Las Vegas Bowl, the Senior Bowl and the Hula Bowl, there was no word from Minnesota, but I talked to most of the other teams, every team except Minnesota. That's why I was surprised," Ta'amu said from Salt Lake City, Utah. "Then I got that phone call and their pick was up. I said I'm happy to be a Viking. Now I have to go up and show them that I can play.

"All I know is they have Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper and an exciting offense," said the converted defensive lineman.

Ta'amu became the second Utah player who played high school football in Hawaii to be taken this year. On Saturday, Campbell High School graduate Cliff Russell was chosen in the third round by the Washington Redskins with the 87th overall pick.

"I'm really happy for him, but I think he should have got picked higher. I thought he was better than some of the receivers that got picked ahead of him," Ta'amu said. "But, hey, neither of us can complain. We're both lucky to get to go to the next level."

Two Warriors signed as NFL free agents and another is on his way to Canada.

Safety Nate Jackson (Waianae) will try to make the Tennessee Titans, and the Atlanta Falcons will give guard Manly Kanoa (Kamehameha) a shot, Jones said.

"I don't know if Tennessee was tracking (Jackson), but I told them about him three years ago," Jones said. "I sent them a highlight tape, and he shows up in it a lot."

Jackson was one of the hardest hitters in the Western Athletic Conference last year. But he is barely 180 pounds and has trouble putting on and maintaining weight.

Kanoa, who was first-team all-WAC last season, started three years. He follows former linemates Kaulana Noa, Adrian Klemm and Kynan Forney into the NFL. Kanoa joins Forney, who goes into his second year with the Falcons.

Slotback Channon Harris will get a tryout with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, Jones said.

Hawaii quarterback Nick Rolovich, defensive back Rob Grant and receiver Craig Stutzmann are among those still hoping for an opportunity after not being picked in the two-day draft.

Jones said those Warriors might come to free-agent agreements with pro teams early this week.

"I would think we'll hear something about Rolo, Robert Grant and (slotback) Stutz (Craig Stutzmann) in the next couple days," Jones said.

Rolovich was disappointed he wasn't among the 16 quarterbacks drafted.

"I'm not sure what else I could have done to show I can play the game," Rolovich said. "I feel like I can compete with the guys who got drafted."

He said UH coach June Jones is using his NFL contacts to try to get Rolovich a shot as a free agent.

"I think he was a little surprised about some of the quarterbacks that got picked, too," Rolovich said. "But that's over now."

Wide receiver Ashley Lelie (Radford/UH) and guard Toniu Fonoti (Kahuku/Nebraska) were picked on Saturday along with Russell. Lelie went to the Denver Broncos in the first round with the 19th pick and Fonoti was picked by the San Diego Chargers in the second round, 39th overall.

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