As the NFL Draft nears, different general managers tend to notice different things about different players and each looks for different characteristics in an individual before making an investment in him.
One thing all general managers would agree on is that dedication and the willingness to go the extra mile appeal to every NFL club.
When you talk dedication and the willingness to go the extra mile, you are talking about Hawaii safety Mana Silva.
For a while, Silva went the extra mile every day, 200 of them in fact.
After signing with Oregon State as a quarterback out of high school, he moved to wide receiver and redshirted his freshman year. The Hawaiian native then transferred to Hawaii to be closer to his family.
He made the successful switch to safety and made some sacrifices along the way, including driving 200 miles each way initially to juggle family time along with classes and football.
“It was very tough to do, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make,” Silva said.
Another sacrifice Silva made was switching to safety, knowing it was his quickest way to the field. Once he made the switch, Silva worked diligently to perfect his craft. He’s done that and is on the verge of being selected by a NFL club.
“I saw playing safety as a better fit for me,” he said. "I was happy with my college career. Things seemed to start out pretty well and just got better from there.”
In his two years as a starter for the Warriors, Silva turned himself into a ball hawking safety that plays sideline to sideline.
“Going to the ball well is one of my strengths,” added Silva. “I love to play this game and I love to be in on every play.”
If you watch Hawaii play, you come away using one word to describe Silva. That’s playmaker. Silva plays the run well and plays the pass just as effectively, picking off 14 passes the past two seasons, something that starting out as a quarterback has helped him do.
“I loved being a quarterback, but I have taken some of what I learned there over to the defensive side of the ball,” said Silva. “It’s helped me understand route combinations better and read the quarterbacks eyes.”
You also come away from a Hawaii game drawing a comparison of Silva to the Pittsburgh Steelers' Troy Polamalu.
While Silva may not be as big or fast as Polamalu, there are a ton of similarities in the way the approach the game. Starting with being from Samoan descent and even wearing Polamalu’s No. 43, Silva strives to be as good as Polamalu currently is.
On the field, both guys fly to the ball and are smart players. When their teams need a play made on defense, they are usually the guys to get it done.
“If I modeled my game after anyone, I’d say it would be Polamalu,” said Silva. “He’s the best and I think we do some similar things on the field, but it’s an honor just to be mentioned with a guy like that.”
Silva may get the chance one day to be on the same field as Polamalu.
No team can have too many play makers on the defensive side of the ball, and Silva fits that bill.
Silva is projected to go in the middle rounds of the draft, but could increase his stock during his pro day on March 31. He’s currently been training in Arizona for the past six weeks working on his speed.
“I’m focused and have been working hard,” added Silva. “I’d like to get my 40 time into the 4.4 range and then have an impressive pro day.”
One thing is for sure, if Silva has dedicated himself to a goal, he likely will accomplish it.
The next step is determining if there will be football to play in the upcoming year, but Silva hasn’t let that bother him.
“There’s no looking at that,” said Silva. “I am focused on what I have to do to achieve a dream. I don’t worry about something that’s not in my hands, I just have to worry about the things I can control.”
This much is certain. We know Silva will go the extra mile to achieve his dream.