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Monday, April 30, 2007

3 picks hail from Polynesian Triangle

By Harvey Fialkov
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

April 30, 2007

DAVIE · The previous Dolphins regime favored Southeastern Conference teams for filling its drafting needs such as recent picks Jason Allen (Tennessee), Ronnie Brown (Auburn), Channing Crowder (Florida) and Travis Daniels (LSU).

Farewell SEC, Aloha WAC via the Hawaiian-Samoan pipeline.

Dolphins coach Cam Cameron and General Manager Randy Mueller plucked three of their 10 draft picks from the Polynesian Triangle, including two distant cousins from the University of Hawaii -- 311-pound center/guard Samson Satele in the second round and mammoth fullback Reagan Mauia in the sixth -- in hopes of adding power and bulk to the offense.

They also drafted 6-foot-4, 334-pound Pago Pago native Paul Soliai, an American Samoan from the University of Utah, in the fourth round to compete with second-year defensive tackle Fred Evans for playing time behind nose tackle Keith Traylor, 37.

"We found out that Hawaii does produce some good players and they like playing," Mueller said after a draft which included five players from UH, a program that has 10 players already on NFL rosters. "They're very close and as you know their culture is one of passion and caring ... and those are good team-building identities that we want."

Mueller's Hawaiian connections go back more than 20 years with Warriors coach June Jones, as well as assistant coaches Mouse Davis and Wes Suan, who coached Mueller at Linfield College (Oregon) in the early '80s.

"I'm excited for the Dolphins because they got two good football players and great kids, just what they're looking for," said Jones, who coached the Falcons from 1994-96. "Of all the players I've ever coached, and that includes [Pro Bowl fullback] Craig ``Ironhead'' Heyward, Reagan is the most physical and best football player.

"Samson is a powerful pass pass protector and run blocker, and I put him in the same category as [Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz] on the Bears."

The 6-foot, 272-pound Mauia, named for late President Ronald Reagan, and the long-haired Satele, named for biblical strong man Samson, are related on their grandmother's side. They formed a one-two punch in the Warriors' run-and-shoot offense in 2006, which led the nation in total offense on the way to an 11-3 season.

"That's what I was known for, to be able to block very well," said Mauia, a converted defensive tackle who has dropped nearly 100 pounds during the past two seasons. "[Samson's] going to be awesome, just like we did it here in Hawaii, great blocking and just connecting really well with the O-Line."

Jones said he'd be surprised if Satele isn't starting his rookie season like former Hawaii product Vince Manuwai did with the Jaguars in 2003.

"When Samson gets on the field he gets that look in his eye, and you don't want to be across from him," Jones said.

Harvey Fialkov can be reached at hfialkov@sun-sentinel.com.

Copyright © 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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