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Friday, May 04, 2007

Alama-Francis 'special,' says Glanville

Alama-Francis 'special,' says Glanville

Defensive end will make quick transition to the Lions, coach figures; first practice is today.

Mike O'Hara / The Detroit News

Jerry Glanville, the former NFL head coach, defensive assistant and network analyst, was surprised when the Lions drafted defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis of Hawaii in the second round.

Glanville thought Alama-Francis would be drafted higher.

Glanville, hired earlier this year as head coach by Portland State, was Hawaii's defensive coordinator the last two years and coached Alama-Francis. Glanville doesn't think Alama-Francis will need much time to make the transition from college to the NFL.

"He's a special person and a special player," Glanville said in a telephone interview from Portland Thursday. "He's all-out hustle and all-out effort.

"Everything he does is just the way you want it."

The Lions' coaching staff will get its first look at Alama-Francis as a pro today, with the first two practices in a three-day mini-camp for rookies. There are double sessions today and Saturday and one Sunday morning. Workouts will be without pads.

Alama-Francis is not well known by most college football fans, which is common for players from Hawaii. They don't get much exposure in the continental U.S.

He was a basketball player and did not play football in high school on Oahu. He was a walk-on at Hawaii. Alama-Francis started one game his first two seasons and was a full-time starter in 2005-06.

He had 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons. The greatest asset for Alama-Francis, who is 6-foot-5, 280 pounds, is his quickness and agility, which come from his basketball background.

Glanville, who lived in Detroit and played and coached at Northern Michigan, started his 20-season NFL career as an assistant with the Lions in 1984. He had two stints as a head coach -- with the Houston Oilers (1986-89) and Atlanta Falcons (1990-93). He also was defensive coordinator of both teams.

He was in touch with some other NFL teams on the first day of the draft and expected Alama-Francis to be drafted before the Lions got him with the 26th pick of the second round. It was the second of the Lions' three second-round picks.

"I was kind of surprised he didn't end up with a couple other teams," Glanville said. "He wouldn't have lasted through the second round. A lot of NFL teams called me. If he didn't go to Detroit, he wouldn't have been there much longer.

"He's a total football player. He hasn't been blocked yet."

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