After going unpicked through the first round of the NFL Draft, it crossed Xavier Su’a-Filo’s mind that he might have some more waiting to do
But a day was enough. The Houston Texans made the former Utah prep standout the first pick of the NFL Draft’s second round, and he was ecstatic when he heard the news.
"I wasn’t expecting it, but I was definitely hoping it," he told The Tribune, celebrating with family in Pleasant Grove. "It was so sweet. It was freaking sweet. It felt good to get into such a great organization, it felt right."
UCLA offensive guard and former Timpview All-American lineman Su’a-Filo was the first prospect with Utah ties to get picked this year.
The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Su’a-Filo declared for the draft after his junior year with the Bruins. He started 19 games at tackle and 21 games at guard for UCLA, helping the program to a 10-3 record and a victory in the Sun Bowl. He was commonly evaluated as one of the top guard prospects leading into the draft.
Going at No. 33 overall, he became the highest-drafted lineman out of UCLA since Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Ogden in 1996. Houston is attempting to shore up an offensive line that gave up 42 sacks last year.
Looking into his situation, there’s a lot to be excited about: He can’t wait to block for Arian Foster, but he also is excited about playing on a team with defensive stalwarts J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and new pick Jadeveon Clowney.
"These are guys I loved watching the last couple years," Su’a-Filo said. "I’m looking forward to getting in and playing for Coach [Bill] O’Brien. I’m hoping I can come in and compete right away."
As a high school athlete, Su’a-Filo helped lead Timpview to three consecutive 4A football titles between 2006 and 2008, winning 36 games in the process. He was an Under Armour All-American, a Parade All-American and one of the top lineman prospects in the country.
Su’a-Filo served a two-year LDS Church mission in Alabama and Florida while enrolled at UCLA.
Some of his best friends are from those great T-bird teams, and he said, and they all gave him a call. Even since his high school days, he’s believed he could play in the NFL. Now he gets a chance to prove it.
"I just wanted to take it step by step, playing for Coach [Louis] Wong, playing at UCLA, and now I’m in Houston," he said. "I can’t tell you how much it means to me, and now it’s a reality."
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