Utah DT Tenny Palepoi felt San Diego was ‘best fit’ for his family
Published: May 10, 2014 08:16PM
Updated: May 10, 2014 08:16PM
Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah fans Francis and Jesse Hunkin hold aloft pictures of Utah Utes defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi (91) as the University of Utah hosts Oregon State, college football at Rice Eccles Stadium Saturday, September 14, 2013 in Salt Lake City.

After the interest he garnered from NFL teams in the buildup to the draft, Tenny Palepoi felt good about his chances of drafted in the late fourth round or early fifth.

But the fourth came, and he wasn’t. Then the fifth, sixth ...

“I started thinking, like, ‘Dang, I might be taking the free agent route,’” he told The Tribune on Saturday night.

Palepoi is the latest standout defensive tackle to play on the Hill, appearing in all 24 games in two years spent at Utah after transferring from Snow College. He was a team captain in 2013 and regularly commanded double teams while recording 4.5 sacks.

But in the beginning of the seventh round, teams started to call and talk camp, and that’s when Palepoi realized just how unpredictable the draft can be.

About 14 teams called him, he said. Sifting through the options, Palepoi decided that San Diego was the best place for his wife, Delaney, and two children, Taytum and Liam.

Palepoi hasn’t met San Diego Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle, another former Ute, but he received a text from Weddle congratulating him on signing. Former Utah quarterback Mike McCoy is, of course, the head coach of the Chargers.

Ultimately Saturday wasn’t a whole lot of fun for Palepoi, but he’s happy now that it’s all over.

“As long as I get a shot, I’ll make the most of it,” he said. “I’m going to go out there for blood.”

— Matthew Piper


Twitter: @matthew_piper