Versatility could send
Manuwai’s draft stock soaring

By Dave Reardon

Like anyone else, Vince Manuwai has his good days and his bad ones. According to reports from Mobile, Ala., the former Hawaii offensive lineman dominated at times at practices this week for today's Senior Bowl, and he got knocked down a few times, too.

But Manuwai is still high on draft guru Mel Kiper's list, as well as on those of NFL scouts. Kiper lists the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Farrington High School graduate at No. 10, the second offensive lineman on his "Big Board" of draftable players.

That doesn't mean Manuwai will be picked in the first round April 26. Selections are often about commodities and supply and demand, and the best guard is usually drafted after several quarterbacks, wide receivers, cornerbacks and tackles. He also needs to perform well in the NFL combine, Feb. 18-24 in Indianapolis.

Manuwai and his Hawaii teammate, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, suit up for the South today.

Adaptability increases a player's stock. Manuwai, who played snapper at times at UH, will go higher if he convinces teams he can play more than one position.

"Some of them are telling me they'd like me to be a center," he said. "The Houston Texans said they only suit up seven linemen, so versatility is important."

Manuwai will be playing out of a three-point stance for the first time since high school.

"Basically they want to see if I can run block. I did it at Farrington, with Coach Skippa (Diaz). It's like riding a bike. After four years you still know how to do it," he said.

After a week of hard work, the fun part is today, Manuwai said.

"It's very exciting. Everyone will be watching on TV, including scouts. A lot of the scouts leave after the practices are done and watch the game later on tape. There are 32 teams, and everyone had at least one scout here. The coaches tell you try to get four or five teams to fall in love with you."

Tinoisamoa is less of a known commodity than Manuwai and is considered small for a linebacker at 210 pounds. But he tends to perform well under a big spotlight and Tinoisamoa gets the chance today to remind the ESPN (9 a.m. in Hawaii) audience he's the guy who made 19 tackles against Alabama.

"He's doing good," Manuwai said. "They see his speed, he's playing special teams, too. The coaches are saying that's where you show what you've got as an athlete, when you run downfield and hit somebody."

Short yardage: Manuwai and Tinoisamoa have opted out of the Feb. 1 Hula Bowl Maui, Manuwai said. "I was hoping to at least make an appearance, but was told I'd have to pay my own way, so I can't," Manuwai said. ... UH's Lui Fuata and Manuwai are among 21 guard invitees to the combine. Tinoisamoa is one of 13 outside linebackers who will be at Indianapolis. Former Saint Louis School and Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser is among the 16 quarterbacks, and tackle Makao Freitas, a Kamehameha and Arizona alumnus, is one of the 35 offensive tackles.

UH Athletics

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