Silatolu remembers his roots

He didn't play at a big time school from the SEC or the Pac 12 and he doesn't play a glamorous position like defensive end or running back, but that hasn't stopped NFL scouts and personnel people from drooling over the prospect of drafting former San Joaquin Delta OL Amini Silatolu at some point in the next 72 hours...

When the NFL Draft commences tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (5 p.m. PST), players from all over the country, from every level of college football, will be huddled around their televisions with friends and family hoping to hear their names called.

One player who is remaining rather calm considering the circumstance is Silatolu, who played the past two seasons at Division II Midwestern State, but he admits he will probably be pretty anxious as the first round comes to a completion.

"I've heard from scouts that I could go in the late first of into the second round," Silatolu told recently. "I'm thinking in the second or the third (rounds), somewhere in there. I'm not really that nervous now, but it'll be sorta stressful when it's happening I'm sure."

Silatolu, who is Tongan, but was raised in Tracy, California, has had quite a journey to get to this point and he said he appreciates the journey even though it didn't go exactly how he had hoped.

"I wasn't really recruited much out of high school," Silatolu, who graduated from West High School in Tracy (Ca.), admitted. "San Joaquin Delta was the school that was closest for one, but I really liked the coaches there and, in high school I never really focused on one side of the ball, I always played both ways, so when I got to Delta, they made me just focus on offensive line and the fundamentals and technique I learned there was what gave me the foundation for where I'm at now."

As a two-year starter for the Mustangs, Silatolu got a lot of attention from schools following the 2008 football season and ultimately signed with Nevada in February of 2009. However, he was unable to qualify academically, so he had to wait and ultimately ended up at Midwestern State where he eventually became a Division II All-American.

"After the (2008) season, I had a lot of schools recruiting me, but I didn't do well academically and a lot of schools pulled back, but Nevada, they stuck with me," Silatolu recalled. "I had a lot of classes I had to take though and I was stacking them up and eventually it just overwhelmed me and I couldn't get it done.

"After that, I was just sorta waiting and then the opportunity at Midwestern State came up and I figured it would be a good thing for me to get away from home a little so I could just focus on my schoolwork and getting better at football."

And get better he did.

Some scouts have compared Silatolu to Larry Allen an 11-time Pro Bowl guard from Sonoma State and he has drawn praise from coaches and players alike who admire his athleticism and demeanor on the field while also relishing the fact that they no longer have to face him.

"The thing that I like about him from what I saw on film is, he's a strong run blocker and he's got good feet for pass protection," Angelo State defensive assistant Pierce Holt, a former NFL defensive lineman who coached against Silatolu, told the San Francisco Chronicle recently. "His footwork is exceptional, and he's certainly strong enough."

At 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, Silatolu has the ideal size to play guard in the NFL and when you throw in a mean-streak as well as his outstanding agility and athleticism (32-inch vertical) he is a player that scouts and NFL personnel folks were already intrigued with, but then when they got a look at him against other top draft prospects, he really raised his stock.

"I was at the combine with guys from Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan and USC and a lot of other great schools and I held my own really well I thought," Silatolu, who is first Midwestern State player ever invited to the NFL combine, said. "Honestly, and I'm not saying this to be cocky or anything, I gained confidence there because I saw they weren't any better than me or the guys I faced every week at Midwestern State.

"They were all good guys, but they played at big-time schools, so you would think a guy like me would be intimidated, but it was the opposite. I loved it and I got more and more confident as the drills and workout went on."

With that in mind and his future coming into focus this weekend at some point during the three-day ordeal or ritual, whichever category you fall into, of the NFL Draft, Silatolu will spend time with his family and friends and he'll take it all in stride.

"As far as leaving my family, my brother and I have both done that so even though we are Polynesians and we're close, my parents have also gotten used to us not being around," Silatolu said with a chuckle. "My brother joined the Navy when he graduated and he left almost right away. I stayed around and actually was feeling sorta bad that I was still at home, but I've been in Texas at school the past two years so they are sorta used to it."

And what will Silatolu do with his first NFL paycheck? He didn't even hesitate when asked.

"I'm gonna buy whatever my mom and dad want," Silatolu acknowledged. "I'll be so proud to buy them whatever they want. They made so many sacrifices for me and my brother and I want to do what I can to pay them back for that, even if it's not even close to what they did for me, for us, really."

Whatever comes his way, Silatolu is ready, but he will never, ever forget where he came from.

Amini Silatolu Scout Profile

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