Two standout Hawaii players have found new homes in the NFL after signing free-agent contracts on Tuesday.
Defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, a former Saint Louis and Cal product and a first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team announced.
Linebacker Manti Te’o, a Punahou and Notre Dame star and a second-round pick of the San Diego Chargers, signed a two-year contract with the New Orleans Saints, according to nfl.com and multiple other sources.
The 6-foot-3, 304-pound Alualu, who turns 30 in May, was the 10th pick overall in 2010. He made 10 starts last season. Following his rookie year, Alualu was named to the all-rookie teams by Pro Football Weekly and The Sports News.
The 6-foot-1, 242-pound Te’o, who turned 26 in January, was the 38th overall after the Chargers traded up to select him in 2013.
While productive, staying healthy has been the main issue for Te’o. He has missed time with an injured foot his rookie year, a fractured foot his second year, an ankle injury his third year and a torn Achilles last season, the same year he was named one of the team’s captains.
Te’o is one of the most decorated defensive players in college football history, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting to Johnny Manziel while also winning the Lott, Maxwell, Bednarik, Nagurski, Butkus, Lombardi and Camp awards.
In New Orleans, Te’o will be reunited with linebackers coach Mike Nolan, who coached Te’o in San Diego in 2015. He also will face some challenges at inside linebacker as the Saints recently signed former Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein to a three-year, $15 million deal and also have returning starter Craig Robertson, who led the team in tackles last season with 115.