DENVER -- Nenane Muti moved from Tonga to Hawaii and embraced Friday Night Lights.
Football was in his future. As a spectator.
Muti played the snare drum in the marching band at Leilehua High School.
"I would be there watching the game wishing I was out there playing. I wanted do that," said Muti, featured on Wednesday night's Meet The Picks segment on Denver7 at 6 p.m. "I went out for the team my sophomore year and fell in love with the sport."
Muti's dedication manifested through lifting and eating. Entering his junior season, he weighed 185 pounds, a concession to his wrestling class. He saw the gridiron as an avenue out. It required tough choices. He quit the band and left the mat.
"I had coaches telling me I was too small and that I wasn't going to be able to play D1. I grinded that whole year. I focused on football. I went for it," Muti said. "It helped that I was also working at the school cafeteria. I was getting breakfast, lunch and after school meals. That was kind of fun."
Muti landed a scholarship at Fresno State, where he excelled in the weightroom and emerged as a leader. Coach Jeff Tedford praised his work ethic. His teammates named Muti a captain prior to his redshirt junior season, a common thread in the Broncos' last two draft classes.
Muti, the Broncos' sixth-round pick who was cleared for workouts earlier this week, mushroomed to 6-foot-3, 315 pounds. When on the field, he evolved from a drummer into a mauler, his strength eye-opening. He projected as a potential first rounder before injuries betrayed him. Muti logged only 14 games because of Achilles and Lisfranc injuries, earning All-Mountain West honors his freshman season.
He never wavered from his goal which he penned on paper and taped to his door.
"It was my dream. That paper was there in high school. And it was there in college. I saw it everyday," Muti said. "It was my daily motivation. My family really helped me. They weren't able to be at a lot of my games, but they helped me mentally (deal with adversity)."
Muti believes working with professional trainers and a nutritionist will increase his chances of staying healthy. Though he played some tackle in college, he is viewed as a guard in the pros. Power is not a question. At the NFL combine, he bench pressed 225 pounds 44 times, the fourth-highest total in the event's history. One look at his resume, it can be argued Muti's best football lies ahead of him.
"Going into the sixth round I didn’t really know what to expect. When I got that call, oh my gosh, I was so excited," Muti said. "To be out there (on the field now) it is a crazy, a surreal feeling. Last year I was in college dreaming about this. I am super excited. Everyday, I am ready to go work and get better."