Rookie Reaction: Fili Moala

The Colts entered the 2009 NFL Draft with a need for a bigger, dominating defensive tackle. They landed one in the second round when they added Fili Moala, a 6-foot-4, 303-pound lineman out of USC.'s Ed Thompson talked with him about his draft weekend experience and his future with the Colts.

Ed Thompson: Congratulations on being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. Where were you when they called you?

Fili Moala: I was with my family in southern California. I spent the whole day fiddling around, anxious, just waiting for that phone call. I was fortunate enough to get a phone call later in the second round. The general manager of the Colts called me and asked me how I'd feel about playing in the heartland of America. And I told him, "Man, that sounds great." Then they made the announcement on TV a couple of minutes later, and the whole house erupted. 

Thompson: Did they talk with you at all about where you fit into the team's plans? And how do you see yourself contributing there?Based on their needs I think you've got a really good shot at being a starter during your rookie year.

Moala: Honestly, I don't know how they think I'm going to fit in. I haven't really talked to them at all yet about the personnel, but I'm sure they have a great group of guys there. It's a very classy organization from top to bottom with really good people. That's one thing that really stood out to me when I was talking to them. They want me to come in and contribute, and that's one of my main goals coming into this rookie season, being able to contribute wherever it may be—on special teams, on defense, or even bringing the ice out for the Gatorade (laughing). Whatever it is, I'm just going to try to be an asset to the organization.

Thompson:  At the Combine, you and I talked about the Colts being a potential fit for you, but how much contact did you have with them prior to getting that call?

Moala: I had an interview with them and I talked with their scouts a few times, but other than that, I didn't have too much contact with them.

Thompson: Has it hit you yet that when you start practicing with the Colts, you'll be looking across a couple of offensive linemen and you'll be seeing Peyton Manning getting ready to take the snap?

Jeff Golden/Getty Images

Moala:  Man (laughing), I tried to let that sink in yesterday, but there's so much information to process right now that there was no way it was going to become that real to me. But I'm really excited to get there and to be with classy veterans, people who play the game the right way, who take their jobs seriously and who love to play football. They've got some really good O-Linemen there, you have to be if you're going to be protecting Peyton Manning. It's just crazy. That's one thing I'm trying to keep in mind, that even though they are big-time players, don't be in awe of them. Obviously, the Colts believed that I'm the same caliber of player, that I can play at a level that they obviously like. So I'm going to go in there, pay my dues, show respect, take care of business, and make the coaches happy about their decision. And I have no doubt that I'll be able to do that.

Thompson:  It's got to be exciting for you, knowing that no matter which defensive tackle spot you end up playing, you'll either have Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis next to you.

Moala:  Yeah, those guys can rush the passer. The Colts were one team that we watched a lot of film on at USC. Those guys get up the field, they have multiple pass-rush moves, and they're savvy veterans. I'm sure that I'll have nothing but good times there and will learn a lot of the tricks of the trade.

Thompson:  If I remember correctly, their roster is pretty stacked with guys from the Big Ten, so you may need to stand up for the Pac-10 in that locker room.

Moala: Oh yeah, I have no problem with that. Our record is flawless when you look at Pac-10, Big Ten. So I'm not going to be walking around and gloating, but if anyone wants to test the waters, I'll be able to hold my own defending the Pac-10.

Thompson:  As you depart USC, is there anything you want to say to the fans there? And is there anything you want to say to the Colts fans?

Moala: I want the USC fans to know how appreciative I am of all the years they cheered me and my teammates on. And to the Colts fans, here's to the future. I'm only going to get better, and I'm determined to be the best and to show everyone that I'm one of the elite tackles in this draft. I know it's going to take years, but I'm going to come in and be as productive as I can be, knowing that I'm going to continue to rise. And let's go win some Super Bowls!

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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.Or contact him by email through this link.

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