Two UH players picked in NFL draft

By Ruthie Cocket

HonCC ournalism 150 student

Two former University of Hawaii football players were selected in the NFL draft this past weekend.

On Friday April 26th, senior Jahlani Tavai was the 43rd pick in the second round of the draft by the Detroit Lions. “I am still in shocked, I feel so blessed,” Tavai said.

Tavai has been a leader within the UH football program; he started nearly every game of each season at UH and led the team in tackles. He was named Defensive MVP in both 2017 and 2018.

Football runs in Tavai’s family as both of his older brothers played through college. One of his brothers also plays in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans.

Also drafted was fellow team member, John Ursua. On Saturday April 27th, Hawaii’s star receiver was the 236th pick of the seventh round by the Seattle Seahawks.

“It’s so rewarding seeing all of my hard work pay off,” said Ursua. “Especially since I did start my college career a few years after people my age typically do.”

Prior to attending UH, Ursua chose to serve his two-year church mission in Paris, France. After his return, in 2015 he redshirted his first year at UH Manoa.  In 2016, Ursua began his standout football career as a redshirt freshman.

Both Tavai and Ursua have overcome injuries within the past two years. In 2017, Ursua tore his ACL while playing against San Jose State. “It was tough being out with such a bad injury, but it made me want to work even harder,” explained Ursua. Tavai also suffered from a season ending injury in October of 2018 playing against Nevada.

Tavai and Ursua will be leaving Hawaii soon to begin their professional football careers.

“I am so excited” said Ursua.  “It still blows my mind, it’s truly a dream come true.”


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