The significance of Feb. 29 cannot be overstated for Bradlee Anae.

That’s the day the former Kahuku and Utah defensive end will take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. For the last two months, Anae has resided in South Florida, diligently working towards impressing pro scouts in on-field workouts and drills.

Players in past combines have been selective and calculated as to what they choose to participate in. Not Anae. He plans to participate in every activity he can, and the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder hopes to put up particularly impressive numbers in the bench press and 40-yard dash.

Anae is a surefire draft pick, and scouts have told him that as of now, he is likely to be selected in the second day of the draft. A strong showing could earn him a green room invite. This year’s NFL Draft takes place from April 23 to 25 in Las Vegas. Anae’s goal is to do well enough at the combine where he can take his family with him to the first round. Last year, the NFL invited 23 players to the draft.

“A lot of scouts have me going day two, possible to jump up to day one guy. Those predictions will be more solidified after the combine,” Anae told KHON2. “Day two, possible to jump into day one as a first rounder. As of now, that’s my goal to be able to solidify myself as a day one guy and to be able to go to Vegas for draft day and take my family to Vegas. That’s just the goal for now so the first step of doing that is this combine.”

Anae has been grinding away with renowned trainer Pete Bommarito, a person Anae calls a ‘combine guru,’ at Bommarito Performance Systems in Davie, Fla. Bommarito’s clientele include New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell, among others. Although Anae has immersed himself in the pre-draft process, the work began far before that. He certainly remembers the rigors of football practice growing up on the North Shore.

“Coming from Laie out there on the rock, not a lot of people know what you did from as a kid. They just see the end result. It’s been a long time coming. There’s countless hours,” Anae said. “I remember a lot of football practices at Kahuku. Those were tough, they really build character. Just to be a part of a program like that at a young age taught me a lot of things about working hard, consistency, and just putting your head down and working.”

Anae was a first-team All-State selection by Cover2 and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. His decorated prep football career ended with a 39-14 triumph over Tua Tagovailoa and Saint Louis in the 2015 HHSAA Division I state championship game.

If there’s anything Anae won’t have to worry as much about in the pre-draft process, it’s his diet. He recalls being 215 pounds before leaving for college. At Utah, he changed his eating habits to become the behemoth he is today.  

That work ethic also carried over to the field, where he played just six games as a freshman but was a consensus All-American during his senior season in 2019. Anae could have declared for the draft after his junior season.

“I wouldn’t have second-guessed that decision to stay for anything,” he says in hindsight. “Not only me, but a lot of the guys who decided to stay as well. I think we left the program better than we found it.”

Anae exits the Utah program as the school’s all-time sack leader at 30 and two-time all-conference selection in the Pac-12. In 2019, the Utes finished 11-3 and were College Football Playoff contenders before falling to Oregon in the conference championship game.

“I want to go into the league and I want to play as long as my body lasts. I don’t look to be just another guy. I want to go in, I want to be the guy who makes an impact right away,” Anae said. “It’s just the same mentality I had going from high school to college. I came to college just having a desire to be the best and not just another guy and so in college I was able to fulfill a lot of the goals I had for myself. Fell short on some of them, just because for myself I have higher expectations for myself and anybody in their right mind (would).

“I do have the same goals from college heading into the league now just to be the best. That’s just my goals.”

When Anae hears his name called, he almost certainly will not be the only Kahuku alum to receive a draft day call. Alohi Gilman, who played collegiately at Notre Dame and Navy, is another NFL Draft prospect who will likely get picked.

“I think it would mean a lot for the community,” Anae said of having two Kahuku alums selected in the same draft. “Especially just for the young ones, the young kids who have dreams of playing football and what not, seeing guys from the community doing it. It’s just great for them, great exposure as well for the community.

“Kahuku football, everybody knows, even the scouts I talked to, they also know about Kahuku football. It’s just great to represent where you come from at this level so I’m excited to go out and do that.”

Anae is far from the only athlete in his family. His sisters Pati (Portland State) and Adora (Utah) played collegiate volleyball, while sister Bradina currently participates in track and field at BYU. Adora was a first-team AVCA All-American in 2017. Bradlee’s father, Brad, was a football All-American at BYU in the 1980 and 1981. Bradlee’s uncle, Robert, received serious consideration for the Hawaii head football coach opening that eventually went to Todd Graham.

No matter which NFL franchise selects him and when, Bradlee Anae won’t lose sight of what it took to realize his pro dream.

“I’m just very blessed. I do come from a family that was raised in a church. Mom and dad put a lot of emphasis on just making sure you’re always grounded in your values and count your blessings,” he said. “I want to be just be able to go out there and play in the NFL and represent what I’m all about.”

The 2020 NFL Combine runs from Feb. 23 to March 2 in Indianapolis, while the 2020 NFL Draft takes place from April 23-25 in Las Vegas. Stay updated with KHON2’s continuing coverage of Hawaii athletes during the pre-draft process.

Tua Tagovailoa

Alohi Gilman

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Netane Muti