The opportunity presented itself, and Netane Muti went for it.
On Friday, Muti announced on Twitter that he would forego his final season of eligibility at Fresno State to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft. The offensive lineman and 2016 Leilehua graduate would have been a redshirt senior in the fall.
Muti redshirted his true freshman season in 2016. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, he started all 14 games for the Bulldogs, earning All-Mountain West honorable mention honors. He started the first two games of the 2018 season before a season-ending injury. In the 2019 season, a foot injury caused him to miss the final nine games of the year.
“A lot of things went into it,” Muti told KHON2 of his decision to declare early. “Like if I had stayed, what if I get hurt again? Things like that. This is also my dream — to go play in the NFL. I just thought that this is my best chance right now so I just took it.”
For years, Muti’s NFL tools have already caught the attention of draft analysts and college teammates. The hulking 6-foot-3, 308-pound Muti has been the topic of fable among fellow Bulldogs when it comes to his strength.
NFL scouts have taken notice, too. He was recently rated as Pro Football Focus’ top interior lineman, although he was a left tackle during the tail end of his college career. His versatility across the line is also a plus. Before he made his decision official, he was told he’d likely be picked in rounds 4-7 if he were to declare. He also understands and is prepared for the possibility of becoming an undrafted free agent. The 2020 NFL Draft takes place from April 23-25 in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of different things but I’m prepared for the worst,” he said. “You never know with this kind of stuff, so I’m just gonna do my best and hope for the best.”
Muti told KHON2 that he has signed with Ascend Athletics for his agency representation and has already based himself in Nashville, Tenn. to train himself for the pre-draft process. As he works his way back to being 100 percent healthy, he hopes to embrace all phases of his recovery.
“Yeah, totally. That’s what I love to do so it’s been pretty exciting just doing football all day every day,” he said.
As a senior at Leilehua, Muti originally signed with Hawaii for college. He was a part of Nick Rolovich’s initial signing class in 2016, but complications in the admissions process led to him enroll at Fresno State instead.
“Sometimes, yeah, I think about it,” Muti said of almost attending UH. “But I mean, I feel like it was better for me to go to Fresno, how things turned out. I just think it was all God’s plan. I don’t regret my choice.
“I didn’t go to Hawaii but that doesn’t mean I don’t represent Hawaii. I still want to represent Hawaii in everything I do. I want to carry myself the best I can.”
Although Muti has not been officially invited to the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine just yet, which will take place from Feb. 23 to March 2 in Indianapolis, him and his team have submitted the necessary paperwork and are now in “wait and see mode,” as Muti described it.
The Combine was made as a platform for athletes to show how well they can test in strength and agility drills, as well as a chance for players to interview with teams who are interested in them. For a player of Muti’s prodigious strength, it shouldn’t be a surprise which part of it he’s looking forward to the most if he were to get an invite.
“The bench press for sure,” Muti said. “That’s probably gonna be the most exciting part for me. So we’ll see.”