NFL Draft 2020 selects 2 Filipino Americans

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK – Filipino Americans are proud to have two young Fil-Am athletes from California join the National Football League (NFL). Keith Edward Ismael of San Diego State Aztecs and Curtis Weaver of Idaho State Broncos were selected in the final day of the NFL 2020 Draft.

Ismael, who is of Samoan, Filipino, African American and Native American descent, according to his Twitter, was chosen with the 11th pick of the fifth round (156th overall) by the Washington Redskins. Weaver was selected eight picks later (164th overall) by the Miami Dolphins.

Keith Ismael at practice. | Facebook

After being drafted, Ismael told a local newspaper that “he grew a love and a passion for the sport over the years. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing or be where I’m at without this passion.”

Ismael has a body-frame of 6-foot-3 and weighing 309-pounds. He played college football at San Diego State where he was a three-year starter. He was named second team All-Mountain West Conference as a freshman and to the first team as a sophomore and as a junior. The Redskins traded offensive tackle Trent Williams to the San Francisco 49ers on draft day to acquire the selection used on him. As a starter, Ismael played at both center and right guard and was known for his impressive technique and quickness off the line.

The 22-year-old Ismael picked San Diego State over offers from Air Force, Army, Colorado State, Eastern Washington, Hawai`i, Montana, San Jose State, UC Davis and Utah State when he entered college.

Keith Ismael (right) with his father, left, at a party. | Facebook

He was born in San Francisco, California, studied at Sacred Heart high school, and comes from a family who loves football. His father, George, was a college center at Florida A&M. George would have made it to the NFL had he not hurt his shoulder which ended his career. Other relatives include uncles Tavita Pritchard, a former Stanford quarterback who is now the Cardinal offensive coordinator, and Wilson Faumuina, a defensive end who played five years in the NFL.

Like Tim Tebow who liked and displayed a Bible verse on his face when he played for the Denver Broncos, Ismael cited 2 Chronicles 15:7 in his Twitter after thanking his alma mater. The verse read: “But as for you BE strong and do not give up for your work will be rewarded.” It is not known if he would do the same or not when he plays in the field.

Anne Fuertes, a friend and a fan, replied: “You got it done! You have made so many proud of your accomplishments on the field but I am most proud that you quoted scripture. There is nothing you can do for yourself than have a personal relationship with our Lord. The combo is amazing!”

Curtis Weaver

Curtis Weaver, 22, grew up in Long Beach, California and graduated from St. Anthony high school before becoming a defensive lineman for the Boise State football team Broncos. His mother, Carla, is a Filipina. He held a Mountain West Conference record for career sacks and he was honored as the MWC’s Defensive Player of the Year and is also a two-time MAC selection.

Curtis Weaver, with his mother, Carla | Facebook

As a 19-year old freshman, Weaver had 11 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and has since maintained his high-level productivity, which was a good indicator of a promising career in the future. When he left the Broncos, he had a record of 24 sacks and 47.5 tackles for loss in three seasons. He decided to skip his senior year with the Broncos when he joined the NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound pass rusher was highly profiled as a first-round pick, but he ended up having to wait until the final day of the draft to hear his name called by the Miami Dolphins. “It was stressful, waiting for your name to be called,” Weaver said. “But I’m happy that Miami called me. I’m happy in the moment right now,” Weaver told a local newspaper.

“This is a classic case of bad body, good player,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on the broadcast. “He’s not going to wow you when you see him, but what he does have is a knack for getting to the quarterback. Not a real explosive first step, but he’s got this wiggle and ability to bend once he gets to the very top of his rush… And he’s an outstanding finisher.”

Curtis Weaver | Courtesy of Yardbarker

Weaver’s “hero”

Weaver’s “hero”, whose photo he posted in his Facebook wall, is New York Giants‘ Lawrence Taylor. Taylor is considered “one of the greatest players in history of football, and has been ranked as the greatest defensive player in league history by former players, coaches, media members, and news outlets such as the NFL Network and Sporting News“.

Weaver will be playing with University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, a Samoan American raised in Hawaii who was chosen in the first day of the NFL draft as Miami’s fifth overall pick.

When asked how he made it thus far in his love for the football, he said: ” “God gives us opportunities in life. It’s what you’re going to do with it and grasp it.”

Weaver, Ismael join other Fil-Ams pro-football players

Weaver and Ismael join the ranks of several other Filipino Americans who have played professional football: quarterback Roman Gabriel (Los Angeles Rams 1962-1972, and Philadelphia Eagles (1973-1977) and recently, wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who retired from the Seattle Seahawks last year.

This year’s draft was forced to be completely virtual due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 NFL Draft was planned to be held in Las Vegas, but since that was canceled, Sin City will be the host of the 2022 draft.

According to NFL rules, the draft consists of seven rounds, with round one on April 23, followed by the second third rounds on April 24. The draft concluded with rounds 4-7 on April 25. The average round consists of 32 picks, which allows each team approximately one pick per round. Some teams have more than one pick in a round, and some teams may not have any picks in a round.

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