JACKSONVILLE, Fla. » Tyson Alualu has big plans for his big signing bonus.
The 10th overall pick in April’s NFL Draft and a cornerstone of Jacksonville’s revamped defense, Alualu wants to use part of his $17.5 million signing bonus to create a better life for his parents and eight siblings in Hawaii. He also intends to build a new church for his father’s congregation in Kalihi. He already has a piece of land picked out.
"I’m going to use it to help my family, my parents and also the community," said Alualu, a former Saint Louis School standout. "Building a church is important for me so that others can have the opportunity to worship God. We’ll see how it works out."
The Jaguars selected Alualu so high partly because of his character and work ethic. They also believe he can play, confident he’ll slip right into the starting lineup and offset the loss of two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle John Henderson.
The 6-foot-3, 304-pound Alualu, who played collegiately at California, arrived in Jacksonville early yesterday, five days into training camp and one day after agreeing to a five-year deal worth $28 million. He signed his contract during the morning practice, met briefly with coach Jack Del Rio in the hallway and then headed to position meetings.
He got his left eyebrow shaved off in the locker room a few hours later, then showed little rust during his much-anticipated debut in full pads.
His first real test — the "Oklahoma drill" against Vince Manuwai, a former Farrington High and University of Hawaii star — is scheduled for this afternoon.
"We’re pleased to have him in," Del Rio said. "Think he’s going to be a good player for us. Like the rest of his teammates, it’s time for him to get to work. We’ll ease him in a little bit, get him some action."
Ease him in?
Del Rio threw first-rounder Eugene Monroe into three one-on-one matchups the night he arrived following a 12-day holdout in 2009. The left tackle from Virginia dominated the competition, getting the best of defensive ends Julius Williams, James Wyche and Derrick Harvey.
When Monroe heard about Alualu’s extra time, he took his concerns straight to Del Rio.
"He said, ‘Wait a minute. I didn’t get any time. You threw me straight into the drill,’ " Del Rio said. "I said, ‘Yeah, but you were different. You held out a long time and made a lot of people angry."’
Alualu may have to wait a day, but he’s eager for his matchup with Manuwai.
"Oh yeah. That’s all I’ve been hearing these past couple of days, even back home just because we grew up in the same neighborhood," Alualu said. "I’m just excited to be here. I love the contact. I love the physical part of the sport, so I can’t wait to get out there and have fun with my teammates."
Alualu welcomes the challenge of being a high pick and being counted on to immediately bolster a defense that missed countless tackles last season and ranked last in the NFL with a franchise-low 14 sacks.
"The pressure on me, being the 10th pick, I got a lot to do to meet those expectations," Alualu said. "All I got to do is do my best. That’s what I plan to do, just go out here, practice hard with my teammates and give it my all."
Alualu’s wife and two children will join him in Jacksonville tomorrow. He’s already buying a house from former Jaguars guard Chris Naeole. His next major purchase likely will be back in Kalihi.
"I knew from the get-go that when I got picked here that God has a purpose for me and the money that I’m going to get," Alualu said. "I have to use my wisdom from Him to spend it wisely."