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NFL Draft Sleeper: Idaho LB Fa'Avae Fa'Avae is reincarnation of former NFL veteran Rontez Miles

By Bo Marchionte,


When the NFL Draft concludes, and undrafted priority free agents are signed immediately following afterward creates another vacuum of prospects earning their shot in professional football.

The draft process is no exact science. NFL teams invest millions of dollars in their quest to nail one pick after the next. Time reveals the track record of both the individual prospect and the team that elected to select or not select the right player.

When the NFL Draft concludes, and undrafted priority free agents are signed immediately following, afterward creates another vacuum of prospects earning their shot in professional football. Even then, a long list of players emerges that will never receive that call to play another down of organized football.

It’s heartbreaking. It’s also reality.

So, a player fluttering in the realm of being on the fridge of being drafted or not piques my interest it’s only natural that I share him with our draft audience. For every first-round flop, there usually is a late-round or undrafted gem that needs a little polishing to get their career off the ground.

Mater Die High School alum Fa’Avae Fa’Avae played for two years at Washington State before finishing his career at Idaho. A hybrid-styled defender at 5-foot-11 and 220-pounds, Fa’Avae brings street toughness to the position.

The street mentality Fa’Avae that gives him that physical edge on the field also brought out the entrepreneur in this two-time All-Big Sky linebacker. Fa’Avae designs clothes under the Island Avenue brand. It’s named after the street he grew up on in Carson, California. That tough exterior Fa’Avae has on the field stems from being the youngest growing up on Island Avenue. His cousins and friends, like all kids, took joy in having a leg up on Fa’Avae.

“When I got to play against my group, I got to take it out on them,” Fa’Avae laughed. I definitely just carried that passion on to high school and to college. I grew up boxing as well. Anything to let out that anger and aggression but in a controlled rage if you say.”

That controlled rage is the best way to describe Fa’Avae. He flies to the ball and looks to body-punch his opponent’s entire soul upon impact. There isn’t any holding back when No. 2 was coming at you during his collegiate days. Fa’Avae wanted to make it count.

Playing hard and enjoying the physicality of the game doesn’t necessarily get you signed to your first contract in the NFL. It doesn’t hurt a player’s chances, either. Fa’Avae is the type of prospect who is hard not to notice in camp, but he must get to camp to gain that opportunity.

“I think my relentlessness and motor,” Fa’Avae said the Vandals team captain. “Just every play and having that knack to find the ball. Just always being around the ball on tape.”

That might sound vanilla. It’s such a cliché description when trying to identify a player’s best attributes. His penchant for sniffing out the football is on point. A fiery leader who wears his emotions on his sleeves, Fa’Avae brings that swagger to the team. They feed off him. Guys like that, along with the ability to make plays, never hurts a prospect.

“Some people say, Devon White, the linebacker from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Fa’Avae says of comparisons he receives. “I feel like we are similar in size and weight. Just the relentlessness and motor to the ball. Bringing it every single play and being the emotional leader he is for the Bucs.”

Certain prospects seem to possess that ‘it’ factor. That extra something, one way or another, makes them NFL-worthy. Doing this a long time, Fa’Avae reminds me of former New York Jets safety Rontez

Miles. He went undrafted in 2013 out of California (PA) and played carved out a six-year career in the National Football League.

Surely, anyone that read a nearly identical article ten years ago would have thought I’m looney. I’ll confirm the looniness on my behalf, but I’ll stand firm in the mindset Fa’Avae can be that Rontez Miles from a decade ago.


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