Kikaha The Attacker

Washington outside linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha loves to attack the football and he has the stats to prove it.

19 sacks.

25 tackles for a loss.

Those were two stat lines for Washington outside linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha for this past season. Some are lucky to post career numbers like that.

” I have been blessed to rush the passer,” Kikaha said. “But I give a lot of great to the guys on my team at Washington. They helped. For me, I just wanted to grow and improve every day as player.”

Kikaha play has earned him a spot at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. this week. It’s a honor for this Huskies.

”It’s been surreal so far here at the Senior Bowl,” Kikaha said. “I have watched guys play here with great careers. It’s a great event and I am having a great time overall.

”Right now I am just trying to knock the rust off and getting used to the drills. Some of the little things you forget or haven’t done in a while. I am getting the groove of things.”

Kikaha fantastic season could have gone the other way. Many times through a coaching change it’s a bumpy road. A year ago Steve Sarkisian left Washington for USC. The Huskies hire Chris Peterson from Boise State. At least for Kikaha the 2014 went exceptional well.

”It was new and it was different,” Kikaha said. “It’s the second change for me and the defensive guys but it was a smooth transition. You realize that stuff like this happens all the time. Some schools don’t do as well because it’s tough. But I thought we did well through everything. Chris Peterson and his staff did a great job with us. It was awesome to play for those guys.”

Kikaha is an attacker. He gets after the quarterback and ball carrier and loves coming off the edge as an outside ‘backer. But he knows to fully transition he will have to excel at another nuance of the position, playing more effectively in coverage.

”I would like to say that I am getting better and more comfortable with that and other things,” Kikaha said. “I am getting close and improving on every little detail. It’s day to day. My game is all about attacking the football. Everyone wants to attack the ball. I love stuffing the run and getting to the ball. It’s what I love to do and always been my game. But I do my job as well and do what I am asked to do within the defense.

”If I am complete player, which I will be soon, there are so many opportunities to make plays and get the ball. As long as I get ball, that’s the dream.”

Kikaha also believes he can fit into any defense in the NFL, whether it’s a base 3-4 or 4-3.

”I think I can fit in both,” Kikaha said. “How fun it would be to play run defense from the SAM 4-3 linebacker position. That would be awesome. I love to come down field and blow stuff up. You get better angles to attack. As a 3-4 outside linebacker you have to set the edge. I don’t have that much experience playing in it and I need to get that rolling. It doesn’t matter to me because I will strive for greatness in any defense I play.”

Something else surreal for Kikaha is playing in the Senior Bowl with his teammate Danny Shelton. He was dominant at defensive tackle in Tuesday’s practice session.

”It’s pretty cool,” Kikaha said. “We lined up today and I paused for a moment. We were in our stances and I turned my head and looked at him and said to myself that this is awesome to be here in Mobile side by side with him.

”He’s such a load and plays with great hands and is a leverage force. I have never seen anyone push [off his spot] that guy. Danny is just an awesome force.”

From here Kikaha will train and get ready for the NFL Combine next month. He knows things will be nutty over the next few months. He’s already gotten a taste of that here at the Senior Bowl.

”You know, I wish I could work on my height,” Kikaha said. “I would love to have three more inches. Man, I would be golden. Seriously, I need to put on more body mass and just keep working on things. I know this is just a process and it got a little weird today. [At the weigh in] I was on a big stage today in a crowd of a bunch of people while they are measuring me. There were bright lights and that was interesting. That was crazy.”

Related stories: NFL Rosters Breakdown Series
Part 1 - Daddy, where are NFL players from?
Part 2- Where do student-athletes major in the NFL?
Part 3 - Drafted vs Undrafted Players
Part 4 – Positional Breakdowns of the NFL: Where are they from?
Part 5 - NFL Veterans: Where are they from?
Part 6 – Top NFL Producing High Schools

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