Being extremely large is a good thing for an aspiring NFL football player, but even nose tackles can get a little too heavy.
When 2004 Palmer graduate Junior Aumavae signed a three-year contract with the New York Jets last week, he credited recent weight loss and a new training regimen for the opportunity.
The 6-foot-3 defensive lineman dropped 30 pounds in the past two months, going from 335 to 305 while working out at Don Beebe's House of Speed in Green Bay, Wis.
"I've been training pretty hard the last month and a half," Aumavae said. "I am a lot more hungry than I was last time."
The last time Aumavae, 26, flirted with making an NFL roster was with the Dallas Cowboys in April, but he was waived prior to training camp.
Aumavae played NCAA Division II football, spending three seasons at Western Washington before finishing his career at Minnesota State-Mankato in 2009.
He previously signed as a free agent with Dallas after the 2010 NFL draft. He reached the 80-man preseason roster that year and played in a preseason game before being cut. Players must make an NFL team's 53-man roster to officially be considered an NFL player.
Aumavae played in the Arena Football League with the Green Bay Blizzard from February to July last year, and he played well enough to get invited to a Green Bay Packers workout.
"I was the defensive most valuable player on the No. 1 ranked defense in the Arena Football League," Aumavae said. "I was really fortunate to be seen while playing in Green Bay. They noticed me."
A December tryout with the Packers didn't result in anything concrete, but it gave Aumavae a chance to be seen and to meet NFL coaches and executives. Eliot Wolf, Green Bay's director of pro personnel, was the one who recommended Aumavae check out the House of Speed, a facility founded by retired NFL player Don Beebe and dedicated to improving an athlete's explosiveness.
After training hard through January and February, a slimmed-down Aumavae was getting ready to join the AFL's Tampa Bay Storm when his agent called about a chance to meet New York Jets coach Rex Ryan at the Jets' training facility.
"Rex was the one spearheading the workout and putting me through all the drills," Aumavae said. "I'm very thankful the Jets organization gave me a chance to show what I can do."
His contract is pretty standard, said Aumavae, one of three AFL players to sign with the Jets last week. He plans to stay in Green Bay and continue training until he reports to the Jets' training camp in April.
Aumavae is confident he will be more prepared than ever for his latest shot at an NFL roster.
"You gotta show up and earn your paycheck and prove why they're not gonna let you go," he said. "The journey has been long, but I'm very blessed with all the people that have been part of this journey in my life. My journey in the NFL just started."
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.