CAL DRAFTEES

Lineman Alualu, Best give the Bears 2 first-rounders

Friday, April 23, 2010


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Tyson Alualu


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(04-22) 21:31 PDT -- Oh, to have your NFL draft status marked with an arrow pointing up when the picks start coming. There's nothing better, as Tyson Alualu can attest.

It was Alualu, the defensive tackle from Cal, and not celebrated teammate Jahvid Best, who was the school's first player to be picked in Thursday's first round of the NFL draft.

The Jacksonville Jaguars busted up all those mock drafts when they made Alualu the 10th pick, and the first Pac-10 player to be chosen.

Twenty picks later, the Detroit Lions swung a trade with Minnesota that enabled them to give Best a call at No. 30 to inform him he'll be coming to the Motor City.

It marked the first time since 2003 that Cal had two players chosen on the first round. That year, quarterback Kyle Boller went 19th to Baltimore while the Raiders tabbed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha at 31; the two are now teammates in Oakland.

In Detroit, Best will be part of a rebuilding effort under second-year coach Jim Schwarz. The fastest running back at the combine (4.34 seconds for 40 yards), Best will be taking handoffs and catching passes from last year's No. 1 overall draft pick, Matthew Stafford.

There was some concern Best would fall to today's second round because of his history of injuries, including a fall against Oregon State that ended his 2009 season with a concussion and sore back.

In nine games last year Best rushed for 867 yards with a 6.1-yard average and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. He also had four receiving touchdowns.

"I'm so happy for him," Alualu said of his teammate. "He was definitely a steal. He belongs in the top five."

Speaking in a conference call from his home in Hawaii, the deeply religious Alualu seemed humbled to have been chosen as high as he was, and before Best at that.

"I was just sitting around and got a phone call," the 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive tackle said. "I was with my family, watching here. It's crazy how it worked out. I was shocked. Words can't explain."

Actually, it's easy to explain. After an outstanding senior season for the Bears, in which he notched 11 1/2 tackles for losses and 7 1/2 sacks, Alualu went to the scouting combine in Indianapolis and excelled at the "Underwear Olympics."

He showed up in top shape at 295 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.87 seconds, pumped out 21 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press and had a vertical leap of 35 1/2 inches.

"The combine definitely helped me a lot," Alualu said. "It helped me to get in the position I am in now."

The Jaguars had told Alualu of their interest in him as an interior down lineman in their 4-3 defense. Still, hearing his name was a shock.

"The No. 10 pick overall comes with high expectations," he said. "I want to work hard to show I am worthy."

Top 10 picks

Cal players drafted in the top 10 of the NFL draft:

2010: Tyson Alualu, 10th

2001: Andre Carter, 7th

1981: Rich Campbell, 6th

1976: Chuck Muncie, 3rd

1975: Steve Bartkowski, 1st

1972: Sherman White, 2nd

1965: Craig Morton, 6th

1953: John Olszewski, 4th

1952: Les Richter, 2nd

E-mail John Crumpacker at jcrumpacker@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page B - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle


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