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Monday, April 27, 2009

Mouton, 3 others with isle ties drafted

Perhaps the anticipation made the waiting even harder.

Ryan Mouton had a pretty good idea he'd hear his name called when the Tennessee Titans' turn rolled around in the third round of the NFL Draft.

Still, the former Hawaii cornerback was "holding my breath," as the draft inched toward pick No. 94.

Then ...

"They called and asked how'd I like to be a Tennessee Titan," Mouton said yesterday from Houston. "I was overwhelmed. I really didn't know what to think."

Mouton was the second Warrior selected -- following defensive end David Veikune's second-round selection by the Cleveland Browns on Saturday -- and led a group of four players with Hawaii ties taken on the second day of the draft.

Veikune will be joined in Cleveland by Baldwin graduate and former USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava, the Browns' fourth-round pick.

Former Oregon State safety and Kahuku product Al Afalava was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round.

Former Hawaii long snapper Jake Ingram waited eight picks after Afalava before getting a call from the New England Patriots' special teams coach, who eventually put head coach Bill Belichick on the line.

"He said, 'We're about to turn your name in and welcome to the New England Patriots,' " Ingram said. "I'm trying to listen and just then everybody in my house started yelling and screaming."

Mouton's selection was the highest for a Hawaii defensive back since Jeris White was picked by Miami in the second round in 1974. He's the first since the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Kent Kafentzis in the ninth round in 1986.

Mouton had been hampered by a hamstring injury in the East-West Shrine Game, the NFL Combine and Hawaii's pro day. Officials from the Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers flew to Houston to meet with Mouton and watch a workout on Friday at Katy High School. Mouton said the Titans indicated they would take him with the 94th pick if he were still available.

"(Tennessee's) not too far from Houston and we play the Texans twice a year, so my family will get a chance to watch me at home," Mouton said. "The Tennessee Titans used to be the Houston Oilers, so they're still kind of the hometown team."

Maiava was the fourth USC linebacker taken in the draft and was caught a bit off guard by his pick. After watching some of the early-morning coverage, he had just jumped in the shower when his phone rang.

"It's a lot of stress off my shoulders," Maiava said. "My foot's in the door and like I told Coach (Eric) Mangini, I'm ready to go to work."

Maiava, a versatile linebacker with the Trojans, said he hadn't been told what his role in the Browns defense will be, and will leave Maui on Wednesday to report to a mini-camp that runs through Sunday, where he'll meet up with Veikune.

"He texted me this morning," Maiava said. "It's definitely going to be fun."

Afalava was taken with the 190th pick of the draft after recording 36 tackles and two interceptions with Oregon State last season. He had a visit with the Bears after his pro day.

"I had a feeling that I was going to come back to Chicago after my visit," Afalava said on the Bears' Web site. "I really enjoyed it. I got along with the coaches. I had that feeling. It's going to be a pleasure being a Bear."

Ingram will make his first trip to the Northeast this week after being picked by the Patriots, who have been to four Super Bowls since 2001.

"I thought if I got good at long snapping I might be able to get into a camp," said Ingram, who became a full-time snapper in 2005. "For this to happen is unbelievable."

Among those who went undrafted, former Hawaii defensive end Josh Leonard said he was headed to the Houston Texans as a free agent and will report in May. Cornerback Jameel Dowling is heading to the Arizona Cardinals mini-camp this week.


Six players with Hawaii ties were taken this weekend in the NFL Draft, and two others signed free-agent contracts.

Player (school) Pos. Team Round Pick
Max Unger (Hawaii Prep/Oregon) C Seattle second 49
David Veikune (Campbell/Hawaii) DE Cleveland second 52
Ryan Mouton (Hawaii) CB Tennessee third 94
Kaluka Maiava (Baldwin/USC) LB Cleveland fourth 104
Al Afalava (Kahuku/Oregon State) DB Chicago sixth 190
Jake Ingram (Mililani/Hawaii) LS New England sixth 198

Free agents
Jameel Dowling (Hawaii), CB, Arizona; Josh Leonard (Hawaii), DL, Houston; Tavita Thompson (Saint Louis/Oregon State), OL, New York Jets

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