Expectations for Kamalei Correa were high after getting selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. But after two seasons in which the outside linebacker recorded 19 combined tackles in a total of 25 games without a sack or interception, he was traded to the Tennessee Titans prior to the 2018 regular season.
Since then, Correa has revived his career with the Titans, showing the same promise that he did as a prep standout at Saint Louis and college star at Boise State, where he earned All-Mountain West Conference honors twice.
Correa played a pivotal role in Tennessee’s improbable run to the AFC championship game this past season, where he saw action in all 16 regular season games and started three. In the playoffs, he registered 13 tackles and two sacks. To Correa, as his faith grew, so did his progress.
“That whole first few years in the league, it’s a big adjustment,” Correa told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “It’s a big leap and I think that all kind of just showed out on the field that hey, I am still kind of young and I do need some work skill so I think that took a little time and I think once I got to Tennessee, I kind of got a little more confident. The team was like, ‘Hey, let’s trade for this guy. He had a good preseason coming in and I just kept the faith and stuck with it and it’s rockin’ now.
“As my faith grew, I grew. And as I grew, my confidence grew and from there, everything started to be a domino effect and it was very positive.”
With Correa’s contract expiring after the 2019, he re-upped with the Titans on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. It’s similar to the prove-it deal Kamehameha alum Kamu Grugier-Hill signed with the Miami Dolphins in March. Like Grugier-Hill, Correa is also 26 years old and believes his best football is ahead of him.
Even though Correa was familiar with Nashville before renewing his contract, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in some of his offseason plans. Nonetheless, he feels as though he’ll be ready to go when preseason training camp begins in July.
“It definitely was a whole new learning experience for everybody, I don’t care who you are,” he said. “I think once you get away from all the normal human responses, you one, either panic, or two, find a solution. You don’t make excuses and you just keep getting after it because you gotta be self-motivated and you gotta find a way to get it done.”
The pandemic has also given him more opportunities to spend quality time with his two-year-old daughter, Reign. Heading into a crucial year as it pertains to his football future, all he has to do is look into his baby’s eyes for the motivation and strength to keep going.
“It kind of goes both ways. They’re more appreciative of what we do and we’re more appreciative of what they do at home because being home with the little one is not very easy. But it’s fun, you get to wake up to a little two-year-old saying ‘Dada’ because I’m normally gone before they even wake up. So it’s just the little things. Just eating breakfast with them at home and not having to rush out the door,” he said. “Just kind of the little things, just sitting back and that’s my reasons why I play. If I don’t get things done then I have to look people in the eye and say ‘Hey, we have to move’ or ‘Hey, we can’t afford this because daddy didn’t take care of that.’
“I think with that, that’s just implanted as a local boy, island boy. You gotta provide for the family.”