Here's a transcript of Hau'oli Kikaha's teleconference earlier today with reporters in New Orleans. The Saints picked Kikaha 44th overall in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday.
Can you talk about your draft process? How many times did you meet with the Saints? Did you take a visit here to New Orleans?
“First of all it has been an amazing experience and a long journey with me and my friends and everyone that brought me to this point. As far as the Saints are concerned, I met with them a few times and enjoyed all of our interviews. I did not go on a trip. I talked to the guys a fair amount and then it kind of stopped for a while and I wasn’t sure, but anyhow I am very excited to be a part of this organization and contribute where I can.”
You have a background in judo and wrestling, how does that help you as a pass rusher?
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“The core fundamentals of those sports are based on balance, power and angles, and not to mention hand-fighting with judo and wrestling as well. All of those things go into what a pass rusher does, and practicing for over eight years has helped me develop all of those fundamentals that we translate on the football field.”
Did you ever consider competing in judo?
“I did actually, and further in other martial arts. My true love is football. I am going to go with this one until the wheels fall off.”
How frustrating were those back to back ACL tears?
“It was pretty hard for me to take. But they’re in the past and I’ve overcome those things along with my family’s help and support and Coach and friends that brought me through those times. It was a rough period, and I’m glad those are long in the past. I’ve been able to excel since then.”
Was it the same knee or different knees?
“It was the same one.”
Where do you best see yourself fitting in the NFL? Is it as 3-4 outside linebacker?
“I see myself on the field somewhere, playing wherever I can for the coaching staff. They know what’s best. I have a job to do, which is compete anywhere they place me. Hopefully they don’t put me at quarterback, but if I have to compete I will. I’m just happy to be part of this team.”
You don’t want to be on the other side of large men running at you trying to take you down?
“I just figured Drew Brees is kind of hard to compete against, but anything can be done I guess.”
Do you have a relationship with Senio Kelemete?
“Yes I do. He’s a good buddy from the University of Washington. He always comes back and gives good words of wisdom and tips. We’ve gone against each other quite a bit. He’s taught me a ton as a trainer and as a person.”
Where are you right now? How were you notified, and what was that call like? What were the emotions like, and what did the organization say?
“Currently I’m hiding in a room away from the hundreds of family members that are outside playing loud music and yelling and being happy. I’m here at home, and I’m lucky to be at home. We kind of just gathered, not expecting this to happen really, and just relaxing, watching television, hoping for something cool to happen, and sure enough, I got the call and everything was kind of a blur since then.”
You said you enjoyed your meetings with the Saints. What stood out in talking with Coach Payton and the rest of the Saints staff that you talked to?
“I thought they were quite genuine. They weren’t afraid to be themselves when we were in there. I felt like a lot of teams hold back or pretend to be someone else while they are in their meetings so they can see how the player reacts to them, and analyze their psyche a little bit when they enter the interview room. When I went into the Saints interview room, it was normal talking and laughter, and pure joyfulness. That’s how I feel we should approach these things when we are talking about football, at least in that arena, not necessarily all the time though. They were just really good guys, they came off as great people that I would want to be around, and just a really fun group.”
Can you clarify which knee had the ACL tear?
“The left knee. I almost forgot which one it was.”