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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Utes in the NFL Draft — Jeremiah Tofaeono already hard at work

Just like every other NFL hopeful, Jeremiah Tofaeono is waiting for the phone to ring next weekend.

But unlike many others, he'll go to work on Monday whether a team wants him or not.

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Tofaeono has been occupying himself with workouts, but also a job. He's back home in Las Vegas, and when the 320-pound guard isn't pushing weights, he's helping out at Northwest Academy.

It's a boarding school for troubled teens, run by Marcel Chappuis, father to former Utes safety Quade Chappuis. Tofaeono has a degree in sociology, and has plans to get into a career of helping kids or teaching when football is over, so when Chappuis offered him a job until the NFL comes calling, it was a relief.

"I was blessed to get this job and start working, so that took some stress off [making an NFL team]," he said. "I'm anxious and nervous to go, and I'm ready to go, but it's good to start working already."

It can be stressful doing professional-grade workouts and then driving 80 miles to his job, Tofaeono said. But earning paychecks helps his family, he said, and it can be its own reward.

Even kids who have problems with authority tend to nurse a healthy respect for former college football players.

"I get a lot of questions from them about how football is going," he said. "At the same time, I can help them with school. It's a good place for them to change in a positive way. This is exactly what I went to school for, so it's a great start to get my feet wet in this business."

Tofaeono doesn't call it a "fallback" to football. Both are great passions in his life. He understands, however, that football has a more narrow window to break through.

So if that phone call comes, he'll head out to whichever team will have him. His next career will wait for him.

"I'm probably not going to get drafted, but I'm hoping to go in free agency," he said. "As long as I can get my foot in the door, I'll be more than grateful."

Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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