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Monday, August 25, 2008

Lofty predictions don't impress USC football player Fili Moala

One analyst said the senior defensive tackle would be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. He says he is just focusing on the season opener.
By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 25, 2008
Fili Moala's cellphone did not stop buzzing.

Shortly after four USC players were selected in the first round of April's NFL draft, an ESPN analyst released his draft projections for 2009.
Moala, shockingly, was No. 1 overall.

"I didn't know anything at all about it until everyone started texting me saying congratulations," Moala recalled. "At first, I'm thinking like, 'For what?' "

The 6-foot-5, 295-pound Moala was flattered by the recognition, but not moved by it.

"It's all preseason stuff -- it doesn't mean anything," Moala said. "But at the same time I do feel like I'm more than capable of doing it and proving to them that I am worthy of something like that one day."

USC is counting on Moala to become a larger presence this season after starting alongside nose tackle Sedrick Ellis for most of the last two.

Ellis, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, overcame constant double-teams to record 58 tackles, including 12 1/2 for losses last season. Moala had 32 tackles and 5 1/2 tackles for losses.

Back spasms forced Moala to sit out the Trojans' final training camp scrimmage and the last few days of workouts. After a day off Sunday, USC resumes practice today in preparation for Saturday's opener at Virginia.

The defensive tackle is looking forward to a productive season. He'll leave the draft for later.

"Right now my focus is on today and Virginia," he said.


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