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Thursday, June 25, 2009

UNDER THE HELMET ... with Andru Pulu

By Mike Cane
Herald Writer

How long does it take 30 football players from nearly two dozen different high schools to gel? Not long at all, according to Andru Pulu.

"The best thing about this," Pulu said Wednesday, referring to being a member of the West All-Star team, "is how we just met but we're already playing as a team. Everybody's getting along like we've been playing (together) for years."

It's an ideal result for West players and coaches, who are preparing to clash with the East team on Saturday. Pulu, a devastatingly tough linebacker from Federal Way High School, will likely play a key role in the game.

Get to know more about Pulu, a University of Washington recruit who hopes to make a big impact in the Pac-10.

Coach's corner

Asked to name some of the West team's most impressive defenders after three days of practice, West head coach John Ondriezek immediately mentioned the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Pulu. "He moves laterally well. He's strong," Ondriezek said.

Heavy hitter

Ever since he first played football as a fifth-grader, Pulu has been hooked on football. The main reason: He loves knocking people around and not getting in trouble for it. "I like the contact," said Pulu. "You get to do things on the field you can't do (off the field)."

A familiar face

The West team's defensive coordinator is John Meagher, who coached Pulu at Federal Way. It's great having Meagher around during East-West week, Pulu said: "I've got somebody I can connect with. I've known him for awhile."

Happy Husky

The University of Washington-bound Pulu said he signed with the Huskies for a variety of reasons. "I was really excited when the new coaches came in, but I really just wanted to stay close to home," Pulu said. Family relationships are a priority for Pulu and he is excited that many of his relatives will be able to watch him play. He expects to contribute on defense for Washington. "They say they're going to try me at linebacker, but if I get bigger I might bump to D-lineman," said Pulu.

Fun in the field

Football is Pulu's main passion, but he also competed in track and field at Federal Way. It was a fun, laid-back diversion, he said. "I didn't take it that seriously," Pulu said. Still, Pulu qualified for the 2009 4A state track and field championships in both of his events. He finished 10th in the shot put (51 feet, 5.25 inches) and tied for 11th in the discus (145-4).

Domino effect

In his spare time, Pulu loves playing dominoes with his brothers and friends. Is Pulu any good? "I hold my own, man," he said.

NFL aspirations

After he finishes playing at Washington, Pulu hopes to rise to the top. "My dream is to go to the NFL," he said. "I think that's everybody's dream over here though."

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