A long off-season is about to come to an end for Ashley Lelie. The ex-Hawaii receiver is a first round hopeful in Saturday's NFL draft.
Guys with NFL dreams will be sitting by the phone for the next couple of days. That's while the NFL draft happens in New York. This year, a host of guys with local ties have draft shots.
Topping that list is the guy who could go before them all. He's Ashley Lelie. And on the eve of the draft, he is ready to get the call and get on with the business of playing football.
It's been a long off-season for Ashley Lelie. Eager to catch his first NFL pass on a night where he's not planning on catching many z's.
"The night is finally here. I didn't think it was ever gonna come and now it's tomorrow. Back in January, April 20th seemed so far away. Now it's here. I don't know if I'll be able to get any sleep. If I do it'll be like maybe an hour or two and I'll be up at 6 in the morning," said Lelie from his home in South Carolina.
Even on the eve of the draft, Lelie's draft position is up in the air. Most publications project Lelie as a mid to late first round pick. For Lelie, the operative phrase is...first round.
"If I do get picked in the top 32, it'd be an honor. To be someone's first round draft pick, they're investing a lot in you and think really highly of you. Wherever I get picked I'll be happy. I'll just go in and try to do my best with that team. It's been my dream since I was 5-years old, I don't care if I get picked first or last, as long as I get picked and have the opportunity to play in the NFL."
And when the opportunity comes, Lelie knows his college coach June Jones will have a lot to do with his NFL dream coming true.
Lelie says, "Basic he should get credit for most of my success getting to this level so fast. When he first came in, I was really. . . didn't even look like a receiver. He came out and started putting in NFL type schemes and popping routes and plays. It really helped me a lot."
Another local guy hoping to get a first round call is ex-Kahuku standout, Toniu Fonoti. Like Lelie, Fonoti is an early entrant into the NFL draft, leaving a stellar career at Nebraska after his junior year to take his game to the next level. Some draft publications rate the 6-4, 350 pounder as the best guard in the draft.