So'oto Put Football Future in Wife's Hands

And so far, Ashley So'oto's hunch about Green Bay appears to have been right on the mark. With a few teams to choose from as an undrafted free agent, Vic So'oto listened to his wife and chose the Packers. With a strong performance on Thursday, he might make the team.

Undrafted free agents choose one team over another for any number of reasons.

It might be because the player has done his homework and knows which team gives him his best chance of making the team.

It might be because his agent thinks a particular team is the right fit.

Green Bay Packers rookie Vic So'oto made his only predraft visit to Arizona. During the latter stages of the draft, he talked to Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene and his counterpart in Arizona, Matt Raich, both of whom called to gauge his interest in signing with them as a free agent. Once the lockout ended and undrafted rookies were allowed to sign, his agent fielded calls from Green Bay, Arizona and Miami.

"Going undrafted, you know that all the teams have passed you up at least seven times," So'oto said on Sunday. "So, I didn't really mind where I went, so my wife made the decision, and here I am. It's the best spot I could be in."

Wait a minute? His wife made the most important decision of his football career?

"I worked out with Brad Jones, (Brandon) Chillar, Brett Swain, Jarrett Bush in the offseason, so she kind of liked the whole Green Bay feel," So'oto said. "She's like, ‘You've been working out with guys and I really have a good feeling about Green Bay.' I live by the motto, ‘Happy wife, happy life.'"

So far, both spouses have reason to be happy. Ashley So'oto loves living in the Green Bay area — they enjoyed some local food and music at Artstreet over the weekend — and Vic has put himself in position to make the team entering Thursday's preseason finale against Kansas City.

"It's a big week for those guys," coach Mike McCarthy said of So'oto and fellow undrafted linebacker Jamari Lattimore, who potentially are battling for one roster spot. "The whole combination of defense and special teams … we're trying to create more opportunities for those guys on special teams. They've gotten a lot of work with the defensive snaps to this point. I think they've improved each week, which is encouraging. This'll be a big week for them."

There's a history for that in Green Bay, with fellow outside linebacker Frank Zombo, cornerback Sam Shields and center/guard Nick McDonald doing it last year. Greene also has established quite a history during his short time Green Bay. In 2009, he turned seventh-round rookie Brad Jones into a quality starter in Aaron Kampman's absence. Last year, Zombo and midseason addition Erik Walden combined for seven sacks after Jones suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 7.

"Especially when you don't get drafted, you definitely look at guys that have made the squad that were undrafted," So'oto said. "Frank (Zombo) was a big guy — he had a sack in the Super Bowl as an undrafted free agent. The irony of it is, I'm trying to make the squad that he already made last year. Yeah, I was very aware of who the guys were on this team."

So'oto arrived at BYU as a highly recruited tight end. He caught 12 passes as a redshirt sophomore in 2007 before being moved to outside linebacker in the Cougars' 3-4 scheme in 2008. The move didn't last long, though. He broke a foot on the second play of the second game of the season. After being granted a medical redshirt, So'oto was moved to defensive end, where he was a reserve as a junior and a starter who led the Cougars in sacks and tackles for losses as a senior.

While the linebacker experience helps — Zombo arrived as nothing but a college defensive end — he says he's "way behind" where he needs to be.

"I try to muscle guys a lot of the time when it's a lot easier if I just use the right technique," said So'oto, who put up 35 reps on the 225-pound bench press at BYU's pro day. "The technique is definitely tough, but as far as the scheme, it was hard, but it's been, what, three, four weeks? It's kind of getting more comfortable."

"All of this is real new to me," he added, "so who better to learn from than Clay Matthews and Kevin Greene?"

So'oto has learned well. He's come on strong, and with Zombo out indefinitely with a broken shoulder blade, there appears to be room on the roster for one of the position group's three rookies — So'oto, Lattimore or sixth-rounder Ricky Elmore — to make the team.

On Friday at Indianapolis, So'oto beat Colts starting right tackle Ryan Diem for a sack that forced a turnover. A second forced fumble was taken away on a replay review.

"Oh, man," So'oto said with a smile. "Any time you get to hit the quarterback and it's legal and you don't get a flag and you don't get a fine, especially in my situation, it's fun. I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I still think the ball's moving before the running back hit the ground. Next time, I'll make it more clear."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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