Defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu became the first Husky player taken in the 2012 NFL draft. The big man from Rainier Beach was selected in the fourth round (109th pick overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ta’amu had been projected as high as a second round pick by some analysts. But he falls to the fourth round and will join Stanford guard David DeCastro on the Steelers.
Here’s the audio of Alameda’s conference call with Steelers
Here’s the transcript below …
How do you feel? What are your thoughts on coming to Pittsburgh?
Good, I’m feeling good. I’m excited. I’m glad I’m playing in Pittsburgh, and get to play with somebody like Casey Hampton
Have you watched Casey Hampton over the years? What do you like about the way he plays.
He’s up the middle, he holds his ground. It takes more than one blocker to play him, and I’m going to try and do the same thing when I get there.
Did you talk to the Steelers throughout the draft? Who did you talk to?
Yes, I talked to the Steelers at the combine. I talked to all the coaches inside the room at the combine.
Did you have a feeling Pittsburgh would be your destination? Why?
Yes, I did. I had feeling. I knew that Pittsburgh was interested. They called me and talked to me.
How will it be to have David DeCastro as a teammate?
It’s good to see David DeCastro as a teammate. I played against him and I played with him in high school. He’s a great player.
Were you teammates in high school?
No, we played together in the All-American game in high school.
Are you also a Seahawks fan?
No, I rooted for the Steelers during that Super Bowl.
What do you remember about the game against Stanford and DeCastro?
When you go against DeCastro, you feel his presence. There are not a lot of guards that can block a nose-guard and you can feel it. With DeCastro, he’s explosive from play one, all the way to the last play. He comes at you, and there are not a lot of guards that stay the same like that throughout the whole game.
Were you frustrated going against him?
No, but he did a good job.
What do you bring to the table as a nose-guard?
Clogging up the middle and not letting anything through there.
Casey Hampton says there’s not a lot to playing nose-guard, you push the man right, push the man left, or push him backwards. Do you agree?
How is your pass-rush?
Man, my pass-rush is amazing.
Do you think they’ll let you do that here?
Hopefully. I’ll show them what I got during camp, and hopefully I’ll be on all three downs.
Did they ask you to be at any specific weight when you get here?
No, they haven’t. I’ll find out at mini-camp.
Is your weight going to be an issue for you?
No, it’s not.
Are you more excited to meet Hampton or Troy Polamalu
Troy, because he represents a lot of the Polynesians out here on the West Coast, and the Samoans out here. To be able to play next to Troy Polamalu, I’ve heard a lot of stories from my coaches that have coached him, and they say that he’s the best football player overall that they’ve ever played with because he knows the game. The way he’s out there representing Samoans and his people, I will be honored just to meet Polamalu.
Have you ever been to the island?
Yes, I visited the island every summer until I got to college. My father was a pastor, so they have this meeting with everybody else in the U. S. They meet him somewhere every year. I went there every summer.
Do you wear a #43 jersey in Seattle?
No, I’m too big to wear 43 on my chest.
Have you ever been to Pittsburgh?
No, I haven’t. This will be my first time there.
Here’s VIDEO defensive line coach John Mitchell talking about Ta’amu …
Are there any weight issues with him?
I don’t think so. When you get guys that are coming out of college that aren’t used to good nutrition, if he does have an issue, we’ll get him down to Garrett Giemont. A lot of times in college when you have so many players it’s hard for a position coach or a head coach to make sure that guy’s weight is where you want it to be. That doesn’t bother me.
He did have up and down weight issues right?
Yeah, but that is not going to bother me. It’s not going to bother me. Here, with the nutrition plan we have in place and with working every day, that’s not going to be a problem.
What do you like about him?
Anytime in our scheme when you get a nose tackle, first you want to make sure that this guy can play the double-team. His job is to keep the linebackers free or the safety free when we bring the safety down in the box. If he can’t do that then he’ll have a tough time playing for us. He did that very well at the University of Washington. If he can keep the linebackers free and make plays, we’re going to start him off from guard to guard and then get familiar with the scheme, we’ll then move him tackle to tackle. He will be able to play a long time and I think he will be a very good football player.
Were you surprised he was still there this late in the draft?
We weren’t surprised because everybody sees everything different. You put a picture up on the wall and we all look at it, everybody sees something different. Surprised is not the word. We all see things differently. I’m happy we got him.
Is he more of a nose tackle than defensive end?
Yeah, he is not a defensive end. In our scheme with the number of people we go into a game with on Sunday, hey, my backup nose tackle has to be able to play in an emergency. We are going to start him off at nose tackle and go from there. We will see how well he learns and how well he moves, then give him a little bit of work outside. I go into the game with five, so that backup nose tackle has to know how to play end in case of an emergency.
Do you expect Casey Hampton to be ready to play?
I think you have to ask Casey that. I can’t answer that. He was here about a week ago. He looks like Casey. I can’t answer that. You have to ask Casey if he is going to be ready to play. When he shows up I’ll know.
One of David DeCastro’s best games came against Ta’amu and Washington. Are you concerned about that?
Here’s what you have to see. These guys are in college, they played a scheme that their coach is coaching. When he comes here we will start from scratch. He is going to play the 3-4 the way the Steelers play. I have no concern for what he did in college. That is behind him. Everything now is in front of him. He is going to come here and I’m going to teach him what we want him to get done.
Is he a classic nose tackle?
He’s a nose tackle that we feel can get penetration. I’m not very smart, but I know that you play with eleven on both sides of the ball. Anytime the nose tackle can take up two of the other team I know that only leaves nine, so we have one more than they have. That’s the way our premise is for our nose tackle. I tell him you eat up two, somebody else is going to make the play.
Steve McLendon isn’t that classic nose tackle is he?
Everybody wants to discard McLendon, let me tell you this, hold your opinion until the season is over.
Is there a prototypical size for nose tackle?
Everybody wants big guys. If you watch, we do a lot with our nose tackles. We let Casey Hampton drop in pass coverage. We let him cover backs and tight ends. That does not bother me. When this kid comes in here, first we are going to see where he is. He is going to go to Garrett Giemont and he will determine where he needs to play at. Then I’m going to get him and I’m going to teach him the things that he needs to do to be a good player for us. We are not going to pigeon hole anybody. He’s going to come in here, he’s a rookie, we’ll treat him like a rookie, and we are not asking him to play tomorrow, next week, or next month. We are going to take our time with him; we don’t open up until sometime in September.
In regards to McLendon are you saying not to discard him?
I’m just saying keep your opinion until after the season, you make the decision.
Can he come in on time?
I think he’s about 30 credits from graduation. I don’t see any other factors on him getting here on time.