After a standout college football career at Hawaii where he was a four-year starter at linebacker, Jahlani Tavai generated plenty of buzz as an NFL prospect heading into the 2019 draft.

The New England Patriots were one of the teams rumored to be high on Tavai heading into Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft. However, their chance to snag Tavai disappeared when the Detroit Lions swooped in and selected him in the second round with the 43rd overall pick.

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At the time, the pick was viewed as a reach among draft experts and scouts, but it was a risk the Lions were willing to take. It didn’t pan out, as Tavai was released after the 2021 preseason.

Two years after missing on Tavai, the Patriots got their chance to acquire him and signed him to their practice squad upon his release by the Lions. In turn, Tavai gets a chance to revive his once-promising pro career and reunites with the coach who selected him in Matt Patricia.

Tavai was promoted to the active roster for the team’s two most recent games, which were both victories, and he recorded a tackle in both.

Here’s how other players with Hawaii ties fared during Week 8 of the NFL season:


Bradlee Anae, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys (Kahuku): Anae was an active participant but did not record any statistics in a 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football.

DeForest Buckner, defensive lineman, Indianapolis Colts (Punahou): Buckner had two tackles, including a sack, in a 34-31 loss against the Tennessee Titans in overtime.

Ka’imi Fairbairn, kicker, Houston Texans (Punahou): Fairbairn made his two extra point attempts but missed his lone field goal try in a 38-22 loss against the Los Angeles Ram.s

Alohi Gilman, safety, Los Angeles Chargers (Kahuku): Gilman had two tackles in a 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots.

Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker, Houston Texans (Kamehameha): Grugier-Hill had five tackles (four solo) in a 38-22 loss against the Los Angeles Rams.

Nate Herbig, guard, Philadelphia Eagles (Saint Louis): Herbig was active in the team’s 44-6 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Marcus Kemp, receiver, Kansas City Chiefs (University of Hawaii): Kemp had a tackle on special teams in a 20-17 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.

Keith Kirkwood, receiver, Carolina Panthers (University of Hawaii): Kirkwood received a target but could not haul it in during a 19-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Las Vegas Raiders (Saint Louis): The Raiders had a bye during Week 8.

Netane Muti, guard, Denver Broncos (Leilehua): Muti was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list prior to the team’s 17-10 win over the Washington Football Team.

Sammis Reyes, tight end, Washington Football Team (University of Hawaii): Reyes was active on special teams in a 17-10 loss against the Denver Broncos but did not record any statistics.

Rigoberto Sanchez, punter, Colts (University of Hawaii): Sanchez punted four times for a total of 182 yards in a 34-31 loss against the Tennessee Titans.

Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback, Miami Dolphins (Saint Louis): Tagovailoa completed 21 of his 39 passes for 205 yards and one interception in a 26-11 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He also ran the ball four times for 10 yards and a score, but the Dolphins fell to 1-7 as trade rumors involving Tagovailoa persist ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.


Rico Bussey, receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers (University of Hawaii)

Rojesterman Farris, cornerback, Denver Broncos (University of Hawaii)

Trayvon Henderson, safety, Cincinnati Bengals (University of Hawaii)

Breiden Fehoko, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Chargers (Farrington)


Trevor Davis, receiver (University of Hawaii)

Hercules Mata’afa, defensive tackle (Lahainaluna)

Kamalei Correa, linebacker (Saint Louis)

Leo Koloamatangi, offensive lineman (University of Hawaii) 

Cole McDonald, quarterback, Toronto Argonauts (CFL) (University of Hawaii)

Jordan Ta’amu, quarterback (Pearl City)

Manti Te’o, linebacker (Punahou)

JoJo Ward, receiver (University of Hawaii)


Tyson Alualu, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh Steelers (Saint Louis): Alualu is out indefinitely with a fractured ankle.

Isaac Seumalo, offensive lineman, Philadelphia Eagles (born in Hawaii): Seumalo is out for the season due to foot surgery.

John Ursua, receiver, Seattle Seahawks (University of Hawaii): Ursua is out for the season with a torn ACL.