Lotulelei on Seahawks’ final roster
Becoming just the third Maui Interscholastic League alumni to make a regular-season NFL roster had not made its full impact on John Lotulelei on Saturday afternoon.
Lotulelei, a 2009 Baldwin High School graduate, was among the linebackers to get past the final cut for the Seattle Seahawks as the team reached the 53-player limit.
“It definitely does feel good,” Lotulelei said. “These past few days all the guys I was training with, we had a hard time not thinking about it, so I’m just glad that’s over with. I still need to continue working because I heard they can still make moves next week with trades and everything, so now I just have to get locked in. Super happy at the same time.”
Kaluka Maiava, also a Baldwin graduate, made the final cut for the Oakland Raiders. The four-year veteran linebacker was Maui County’s second player ever in the NFL, after Molokai’s Kimo von Oelhoffen, a defensive lineman with four teams from 1994 to 2007.
Two other former MIL standouts, linebacker JoJo Dickson of Baldwin and defensive lineman Tevita Finau, a Kahuku graduate who played at Lahainaluna and Maui High, were cut by the New York Jets on Saturday.
Lotulelei attended Merced (Calif.) Junior College before getting a shot at Nevada-Las Vegas, where he had 120 tackles in an all-Mountain West Conference season in 2012.
“Man, you know, I always think about the road I took, about high school football, how I wasn’t picked up anywhere, to Merced, I got a lucky shot with UNLV, it’s amazing,” he said. “The feeling is super, it feels super good.”
Lotulelei went undrafted after solid numbers at the NFL scouting combine. He signed a free-agent deal and had 12 tackles, two for loss and two on special teams, in the Seahawks’ four preseason games.
He admitted to some nervous moments on Saturday.
“I walked into the facility and all the guys who come and tell you that you’re cut, they were all waiting over there, so as I was slowly walking past those guys I was waiting for one of them to pick me up,” Lotulelei said. “I walked through and I showered, I got out of the shower and I asked, ‘Were all the cuts made?’
“They were, like, ‘Pretty much. You don’t have to worry, you’re fine.’ I couldn’t celebrate that much because other people who were getting cut were over there, so I just walked away with a big smile.”
Lotulelei said the Seahawks can be a contender this season.
“We have showed that we can be one of the best teams in this league,” he said. “I don’t think all that has hit me yet – I’m trying not to get too excited over here.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com