Leki Fotu Was Just As Happy For His Utah Teammates Who Got Drafted As He Was For Himself
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah defensive tackle Leki Fotu had a special moment on Saturday, April 25 when he got drafted.
Fotu was selected in the fourth round with the 114th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He was the fifth Ute out of the seven players to get selected along with five more players signing with NFL teams after the draft as undrafted free agents.
The former Utah defensive tackle shared his feelings about the 11 Utes’ teammates that landed on NFL squads with the Crimson Corner podcast.
“I was just as happy for them as I was for myself,” Fotu told KSL Sports. “Knowing that the guys you came in (to Utah) with your freshman year, to see them be a part of this draft class was something super special. It’s something that you will never forget. Coming in with Zack (Moss), Terrell (Burgess), Snoop (Tyler Huntley) and everyone, to see them get their shot too is just one of the best feelings that you can have when your teammates, brothers and friends are successful and now have the chance to go against them but it’s super exciting.”
Cornerback Jaylon Johnson was the first Utah player taken in the draft when the Bears used their 50th overall pick in the second round. Safety Julian Blackmon was next when the Colts took him with the 85th overall pick in the third round. Running back Zack Moss went right after Blackmon to the Buffalo Bills with the 86th pick.
Burgess was taken by the Rams at the end of the third round. After Fotu was taken, defensive end Bradlee Anae was drafted in the fifth round, 179th overall pick to the Dallas Cowboys and defensive tackle John Penisini went in the sixth round, 197th overall to the Detroit Lions.
The five Utes that signed undrafted free agent deals include quarterback Tyler Huntley and cornerback Josh Nurse to the Baltimore Ravens, linebacker Francis Bernard signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Offensive lineman Darrin Paulo inked a deal with the New Orleans Saints and Javelin Guidry signed with the New York Jets.
You can listen to the full interview with Fotu on the Crimson Corner podcast below.
Facing Utah Teammate Twice Per Season
Out of all of the Utes in the 2020 draft class that landed on NFL rosters, only one player was taken by a team in the same division as Fotu and the Cardinals. That’s former Utah safety Terrell Burgess who was taken in the third round, 104th overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams.
Fotu is excited for Burgess and recounts some of the conversations they had in college.
“Before all of this, we talked in our rooms about moments like this,” Fotu said. “Just to have talks like that and now actually going through it is something that I can’t explain. It feels like we are in a movie. I am excited to go to work and represent not just ourselves but what we have been doing these past four years at Utah and to share it with everyone else.”
Fotu is still in Utah and hasn’t gone to Arizona yet due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, he is meeting with his coaches every day and working out to stay strong.
“I am still in Utah,” stated Fotu. “I have been having meetings with my d-line coach everyday and going over installs and understanding the defense, breaking down the position I am going to be playing. I have been doing workouts to stay fit and strong. I am ready for when everything clears up and when we head down there.”
It’s been nearly two weeks since Fotu was drafted into the NFL. He is still full of excitement and is ready to get to work.
“After the draft, it’s been a lot of excitement but at the same time I knew that it was time to work,” said Fotu. “But, with everything that is going on in the world I am trying to do the best that I can on my part to stay fit and ready. Right now, I am just trying to learn the playbook and understand the defense. Everything else is going good. It’s just a matter of time until we get out there.”
Teammates With Former Utah Defensive End
When Fotu was taken by the Cardinals in the draft, he joined a fellow Utah defensive lineman in Kylie Fitts who is already on the roster in Arizona. Fitts finished his first season with the Cardinals after joining the team from Chicago. The Bears took Fitts in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft but due to injuries, Fitts was released but was fortunately picked up by the Cardinals.
Fotu has been in touch with Fitts since being drafted by the Cardinals.
“Yeah, I shot him a text and he is super excited to have another Ute boy down there with him, I am excited that he is there, to have a familiar face down there,” Fotu mentioned. “He is someone that I can look up to and have him help me out with the area and also helping me as a player. I am just super excited to start working with him.”
After Fotu received the call on that Saturday from the Cardinals saying that he was getting drafted by the organization, the first people to reach out to Fotu was his coaches at Utah.
“They were one of the first ones to call me after my call with the Cardinals,” said Fotu. “I owe those coaches a lot and for helping us become the player and the young men that we are, for the process that we followed. They were one of the first ones to call and that meant a lot to me. Knowing that my coaches that recruited me in high school and to still show love after.”
Fotu is hoping to be able to get down to Arizona soon to get acclimated to life in the NFL. He has set some goals for himself heading into his rookie season.
“My goals going into my rookie season is to be the best player that I can be,” Fotu stated. “Also, to be one of the best defensive linemen in the league. I feel like we have the coaching staff that can help me reach my goals that I have locked in.”
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