Mapu joins Redskins

Another former Tennessee Vol is getting a shot at making a National Football League roster.

Jonathan Mapu, who sandwiched his four-year UT career around a two-year mission for the Mormon Church, has signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins.

Mapu, a 6-4, 290-pounder from Kahuku, Hawaii, played sparingly as a Vol defensive end in 2002, recording nine tackles. He flashed tremendous potential after moving to tackle in 2003, however, starting 11 of 12 games and registering two sacks among his 26 tackles.

After spending 2004 and 2005 assisting hurricane victims as part of his church mission, Mapu returned to Tennessee overweight and out of shape in the summer of 2006. He recorded just eight tackles all season as a little-used reserve.

Mapu began rounding into shape in time for his senior season of 2007 but still showed plenty of rust following the two-year layoff. He started five games and finished with 22 tackles, including one sack.

Mapu attended the Redskins' May 2-4 mini-camp as a tryout candidate and impressed team officials enough to warrant a free-agent contract.

Washington's starting tackles in 2007 were Cornelius Griffin, an eight-year veteran out of Alabama, and Anthony Montgomery.

Griffin, a 6-3, 311-pounder, started 14 games in 2006 and recorded 68 tackles. His tackle total slipped to 52 last fall, although he started all 16 games.

Montgomery, a 6-6, 315-pounder, started one game as a rookie in '06, then worked his way into the starting lineup on a full-time basis in '07. He finished his second pro season with 47 tackles.

The chief reserve among Redskin defensive tackles is former Georgia standout Kedric Golston. The 6-4, 320-pounder started 12 games as rookie in 2007 and recorded 59 tackles. He lost his starting job to Montgomery last season, however, and registered just 16 stops in a reserve role.

Mapu will compete for the No. 4 tackle job with third-year men Lorenzo Alexander and Matthias Askew, along with fifth-year man Ryan Boschetti.

Alexander, a 6-1, 300-pounder, recorded just 4 tackles last fall but showed enough versatility to fill in at guard, tight end and fullback.

Askew, a 6-5, 302-pounder, recently re-signed with the team after being cut following its 2007 training camp.

Boschetti, a 6-4, 311-pounder, saw action in just three games in 2006 and one game in 2007.

Mapu is among nine members of the '07 Vol squad currently bidding for roster spots with NFL teams. Linebacker Jerod Mayo (Round 1, Patriots), tight end Brad Cottam (Round 3, Chiefs) and quarterback Erik Ainge (Round 5, Jets) were selected in the recent NFL Draft.

Guard Eric Young and defensive end Xavier Mitchell signed free-agent deals with the Browns. Tight end Chris Brown signed as a free agent with the Jaguars. Defensive end Antonio Reynolds hooked up with the Super Bowl champ New York Giants and defensive back Jonathan Hefney got a free-agent contract from the Bucs.

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