G Vince Manuwai's comments on first round pick Tyson Alualu
(what do you think of having another player here from Hawaii?) "It's great. It's not only that he's from Hawaii but I actually know him personally and his family and friends that married into the family, and I saw him growing up as a little kid. Like I said not only him being from Hawaii but I know him personally and we're from the same neighborhood."
(where was the neighborhood?) "We lived in the projects called Kuhio Park Terrace, KPT for short."
(is this in Honolulu?) "Yeah it's in Honolulu, in Kali'i."
(they have projects in Honolulu?) "Yeah."
(what can you tell us about him and about growing up in KPT?) "I never saw him play or anything but I know watching him as a little kid I know his parents were real guarded. He was probably the only boy maybe or two, but I would see him out but every time I would see him he was always getting ready for football practice or training so he was never hanging around outside of the projects. I know his dad runs maybe security there so there was a lot that he could even if he left the house as far as getting into the gangs or whatever. So I know they were really focused on him, making sure he was getting his sports done and all that and it shows they did a great job and he's at the next level being a top-10 pick."
(how old were you when you first met him?) "I was in high school and I know he was in elementary going through the Pop Warner stages, but my fondest memory remembering was always getting ready to practice. I know his dad would always take him. He was known in KPT to always do football and that's the only thing he focused on."
(what was your feeling yesterday when you saw the reaction of the local fans being aghast at this pick because they didn't know who is was and there was so much criticism of this pick?) "I guess when you get the media attention, you know how that is, they're talking about so much about a lot of players and they've never heard of Tyson Alualu and all of a sudden you draft him and then people get shocked. Gene Smith, it's his job. They did a great job of drafting last year and doing a great job this year drafting. It's tough I guess, but a lot of it is because of the media attention. If they were talking about Tyson Alualu the whole time, would they have been more shocked? Probably not but they're just shocked because I guess he never had a lot of media attention. But on Gene Smith's board there was availability I guess, and they liked the way he played and his motor knowing he can come in and do some things."
(what do you think the reaction will be after fans see him play?) "He has work on his shoulders and what he has to do to come in here and play in that top ten pick. I know he was probably top five in the D-tackles so after the first two guys, pretty much the last three in the top five that's when you start breaking down, is he a character guy? So to me it doesn't separate them, so for Gene to draft him that was the best decision."
(he'll have to always live with that stigma of 'he was the guy they drafted instead of Tim Tebow;' is that unfair?) "In my mind they weren't going to take Tebow. So unless they traded up somewhere around the top five but I didn't think at the 10th pick they were going to take Tebow. With Alualu at a young age, helping out with Big John (Henderson), Terrance Knighton, he's going to come in and help them plug up some holes and get some sacks, crash the pocket."
(will you help him get acclimated to Jacksonville and explain this Tebow thing to him?) "Oh, definitely. I never thought they would have taken him at the 10th pick for Tebow. I guess they're more used to Alualu playing more I guess, but that's not my job. I just hope he knows what's on his shoulders. I know that he's a hard worker. I'd seen him as a kid. He never spoke a lot, just did what he was supposed to, what his parents told him to do and that's what he's been doing. I went to school with his sisters. They're a couple years younger, two of them. I never saw him as a kid that walked around and had a big chest or nothing. He just played; a real quite kid."
(do you think he knows what is on his shoulders with the Tebow stuff?) "No, I don't think he's even worried about. He got drafted and now he knows what he's got to do to come in and start working hard and get into that playbook, like they say as a rookie, get your contract done and that's probably what he's worried about. He can't control the Tebow situation."
(why do you think there are so many Samoans doing well in the NFL?) "I don't know. I guess as years go by you learn and learn more about it. I guess it's one of those things that you can't get enough now. Some of them realizing I guess what you can do more of. My years, I watching the Noga brothers, Jesse Sapolu. It's just one of those you just start picking up on it. You've got more things now in high school and college. Coming out of high school I never had clinics and now you got so many clinics you can go to and develop your talents a lot faster. Back then a lot of Samoans couldn't pay for clinics or work with somebody. Now maybe a lot of the Samoans are giving back. I remember Troy (Polamalu), Chris Fuamatu Ma'afala back in Hawaii were doing clinics. Now we've drafted Tyson maybe I'll talk to him about going back to our old neighborhood and doing some clinics."
(does Chris Fuamatu Ma'afala know Alualu?) "No. Fu grew up in a different projects. Me and Tyson grew up in the same projects."
(did they go to the same high school?) "No, he went to a different high school. He went to St. Louis where Jimmy Chang went, our quarterback, back in the University of Hawaii."
(Alualu went to St. Louis High School with Olin Kreutz) "And Fu. Fu went to St. Louis also."
(anybody else come out of the high school that you know of?) "Dominic Raiola, Olin Kreutz."
(on it being a big time high school) "Yeah. They won 13 prep state champions in a row."
(did you go to St. Louis or a different high school?) "No, I went to a different high school. It was about 10 minutes away. I had the possibility but I went to public high school."
(when he gets here, what will you tell him?) "Just tell him congratulations. We're making our people proud. It's weird, like I said, you watch him from when you're in high school and then all of a sudden you're playing with him now. It's different. You see him as a little kid but now I can't see him as a little kid, he's a grown man now. So definitely come in and just say hey, just hit the books and don't try to do too much so fast. There's a lot of pressure of course with being a top 10 pick, but try not to let it eat away at him. Sometimes when they come in that young they end up burning out but I know work ethic since he was a kid. He's a hard worker. That's one thing I know Gene loves about him is his character and maybe that separates the last three D-tackles they had was the character issue. That's one of the things they wanted to clean up was the character issues and that's definitely why they probably went with him. And Gene likes his motor. Just coming in and just say, 'Hey man, just do your job. I was a rookie.' And some things we'll talk about later I guess. I'll give him my phone number also and say, 'Hey, give me a call.' "
(is there a big Samoan population in Hawaii?) "Yeah, real big. A lot of people are telling me, 'Oh, another Hawaiian person.' But a lot of times they tend to forget. See, I'm Hawaiian-Samoan. He's just full Samoan so a lot of them tend to forget that when they come from Hawaii they assume he's another Hawaiian person. So I have to correct a lot of them. People ask, 'what's the difference?' I say there's Hawaii and there's Samoa. So I tell them no, he's Samoan. They say, 'Is there a difference?' I say 'No, he's a great kid. Hawaiians and Samoans are pretty much the same as far as mannerism and stuff.' You guys get to see when he comes in. He's a quiet kid, kind of shy but I know when he steps on the football field there's something that turns in him. That's pretty much what I know about him."
(you mentioned you're Hawaiian-Samoan. Does that mean one of your parents is Hawaiian and both his parents are Samoan? Is that the difference?) "Yeah. My mom is half Hawaiian, half Samoan. My dad was three-quarter Samoan and a quarter white. Where we lived in the projects there are more population of Samoans."