NFL combine plan for Washington State's Shalom Luani: Remove the underrated label

SHALOM LUANI (6-0, 205) tells CF.C he has been training for the past two months in San Diego for his shot at the NFL, and will head to Indianapolis on Thursday for the combine. The former Cougar defensive back also says his position coach and defensive coordinator at Washington State, Alex Grinch, prepared him exceedingly well heading into Indy.

You won't find Luani's name plastered all over ESPN’s pre-combine and NFL draft coverage. For a time it was even in question if the Cougar safety/nickel who racked up 157 tackles and eight interceptions during his two years at Wazzu would get an invite to the combine. But now that he's heading to Indianapolis, he’s planning on making an impact.

“From what most people say, and from what I say, I’m like the underrated guy here who hasn’t been on the radar.  But I’m sure I’m going to make a mark for myself,” said Luani.

COUGFAN.COM: Where are you training to get ready for combine and WSU’s pro day, how long have you been there and who is your agent?

Luani: I’ve been at EXOS in San Diego for the past couple of months.  My agent is Michael Huffman.

COUGFAN.COM: Many players find in going from successful college playing careers to preparing for the combine, they suddenly have to adopt new and different training techniques. Has it been much of a change for you? How helpful was studying under Alex Grinch the past two years in terms of preparing you for the draft?

Luani: Oh yes, big time, very helpful and especially when I’m doing my position drills.  Since I’ve been training here, the drills that I’ve been doing here at EXOS are not new at all. I’ve been doing these same drills with Grinch since I started there at WSU. He’s been very, very helpful to me and he gave me great feedback like (where my eyes need to be).

COUGFAN.COM: There’s been some talk you might follow in the footsteps of Deone Bucannon in the NFL and become that ‘moneybacker’ type of player, the hybrid safety-linebacker trend that has taken hold in the NFL lately. Any thoughts?

Luani: It is a possibility but for me, I’m more focused on playing at safety because I feel like I have an impact on the ball at safety. But if a team wanted me to play that role, I’m certainly fine with it.

COUGFAN.COM: What’s your No. 1 goal for the combine?

Luani: I’m really focusing on my speed right now. That’s probably my main goal, speed in the 40.

COUGFAN.COM: Have you heard that from NFL scouts, that they want to see what kind of 40 speed you have in Indy?

Luani: No, I really haven’t heard that. My agent also suggested it but really, it’s what I feel I needed to do myself, I felt that I needed to focus on it.
Note: EXOS training facility specializes in combine-specific training. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, it said EXOS noted seven of the top 10 times in the 40 from last year’s combine came from athletes that were in their program.

COUGFAN.COM: After the combine, do you plan on heading back to WSU for Pro Day on March 9.

Luani: Yes, I’ll be there on the March 8.

The combine runs from Feb. 28 - March 6. Luani and the defensive backs are scheduled to arrive March 3 with their on-field work and drills scheduled for the last day, March 6. Gabe Marks, the other Cougar invited to the combine,  is scheduled to arrive with the wide receivers on March 1 and work out on the field March 4.  The NFL draft is April 27-29.

RELATED: Marks and Luani are Indy-bound

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