Wait is Worth it for Fanaika, Nolan

Outgoing ASU seniors Paul Fanaika and Troy Nolan were obviously happy to get drafted this past weekend by their respective NFL teams. They wished they were selected earlier in the day, but their patience was rewarded as both heard their names called in the seventh and final round.

Offensive guard Paul Fanaika was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 213th overall pick. "I expected the Eagles to draft me," Fanaika said. "I was kind nervous until my name was called, but I just hoped that everything was going to work out. I know that my agent was working his butt off and I had a feeling everything was going to take care of itself.

"I'm happy that the Eagles selected me because I really got to know their offensive line coach there and he worked me out. Everything really clicked with them."

Fanaika felt that the offensive scheme that Philadelphia runs is similar to what he's been a part of at Arizona State and is hoping that this creates a smooth transition as he starts to acclimate to life in the NFL.

The former guard commented that the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys were showing fairly strong interest in him prior to the draft. "Those are three teams that told me they were thinking of picking me," Fanaika recalled, "but Philadelphia picked me before they had a chance."

A former walk-on who twice earned honorable mention All-Pacific-10 Conference honors, Fanaika was awarded a scholarship his sophomore year. He played in a total 48 games in his four years at ASU, ending his career with 35 consecutive starts at right guard.

Even though the Sun Devils finished 5-7 in his senior campaign, he felt that this didn't hurt his draft stock because "it all depends what the scouts see on your game film…I don't know if my senior year was my best, but every year I got something different out of it.

"In my senior year I was more of a leader and even though we had a bad year I got that out of it."

Fanaika added that despite the youth and inexperience on ASU's front five, that this group is "better than what people think it is" and expected the unit to have great competition for the various roles which would enhance the offensive line overall. And perhaps pay dividends in 2009

The former guard will participate in the Eagles' mini-cap this weekend.

Safety Troy Nolan (pictured) was selected ten picks later (the 223rd overall selection) by the Houston Texans and just like Fanaika admitted that it was a bit nerve-racking waiting until the very near end of the draft to be selected.

"I did expect to get drafted," Nolan said, "and I did expect to get drafted earlier than I did. Stuff happens I guess, but I just kept my faith and believed that I was going to get drafted. When I heard my name called it was crazy…very exciting."

The safety said that hearing his named being called by the Texans did surprise him since they barely made contact with them compared to other NFL clubs. "Sometimes it happens like that," Nolan said. "Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears were teams that talked to me more than the Texans did before the draft."

Nolan, a former junior college transfer, started all 25 games of his ASU career at safety, and was a team captain last season. He earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors both years, and had ten interceptions, five defensive touchdowns, 128 tackles and 13 pass breakups during his Sun Devil tenure.

The safety admitted that his junior season was perhaps better than his senior campaign numbers wise, but doesn't have any regrets of not entering the NFL draft a year early.

"We didn't have the year that we wanted," Nolan remarked, "but all of us kept on playing hard and that's what NFL teams see and then decide to draft you or not. It doesn't matter what kind of record your team had because anywhere you go in the NFL you're starting from scratch and have to compete hard to be on the team."

Nolan will begin that task in mid-May when he reports to his new team.

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