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Thursday, December 07, 2006

UH Lineman Tala Esera Selected for East-West Shrine Game

Hawaii's Esera to East-West Shrine

Hawaii left tackle Tala Esera has accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game, Jan. 20 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

"I'm kind of nervous because I don't know what to expect," Esera said. "But I think there will be some other (UH players) there, too."

Esera's stock rose steadily during Hawaii's 10-3 regular season, in which he helped anchor the nation's statistically best offense. One scout said Esera was graded a potential free agent before the season started, but is now considered a likely third-round draft choice.

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"I don't know about that," the 6-4, 308-pound Esera said. "I don't really pay attention to it."

UH offensive line assistant Dennis McKnight does.

"He's the best offensive tackle I've seen on film this year. He should be at the Senior Bowl," McKnight said. "The East-West Shrine Game is a helluva opportunity and he is very deserving."

Esera replaces Warriors teammate Samson Satele, who had a Shrine Game invitation, but opted for the Senior Bowl instead.

"Tala was next in line at tackle, so he had a good chance of making it anyway," Shrine Game board member John Murphy said.

Esera came to UH from Kahuku High School in 2002 as a defensive tackle, but was moved to offense before the start of the 2003 season. He has started 41 consecutive games and was named to the All-WAC first team earlier this week.

Esera also received UH's Most Inspirational Player award at Sunday's banquet.

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