Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Former Bulldog scores NFL contract

Raymond Emanuel Hisatake at Pro Day, April 1, 2010. Photo courtesy of Bay'bee Joy Saleapaga.

Sharon Ho
Issue date: 5/3/10

In a world where most players enter college football programs with years of Pop Warner and high school playing experience, Raymond Emanuel Hisatake stands out.

Hisatake, 23, a former CSM Bulldog defensive lineman, signed a three-year free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers on April 24, and will be suiting up in a No. 62 Panthers uniform.

He received a $10,000 signing bonus and will have a first year salary of $320,000.

"It's a storybook tale," said his former CSM head coach Larry Owens.

"Ray having never played any football at high school to have an opportunity to play professional football and get paid for it, I am really excited for him. We at CSM love him a lot and are very happy for him and his family," he said.

Hisatake never played a football game before he came to CSM, said Owens.

When he first came for tryouts, he wasn't sure what the pads were and how to put them on.

"Ray was easy to coach," said Owens. "He would do everything you tell him to and he worked very hard and has come a long way."

"I am very thankful and very blessed," said Hisatake. "I gave my best and am happy that I will be able to represent CSM and the coaches."

Hisatake graduated from Westmoor High in Daly City, a school that did not have a football program, in 2004 and enrolled at CSM with the intention of joining the track-and-field program.

"It was very hard to get a full-ride scholarship to college through track-and-field," said Hisatake. "I spoke to a few colleges, and I found out that I was good but not good enough (to get a scholarship)."

Still, that did not stop Hisatake from winning the 2006 Coast Conference Track & Field Championship in discus throwing.

"I thought that since CSM had a football team, I might as well try out and hope to get into a Division III college football program," said Hisatake.

Instead, after greyshirting in 2004 and playing as a defensive lineman in 2005 and 2006, Histake won a scholarship to a Division I football program at the University of Hawaii.

At UH, he switched to playing in the offensive positions of left tackle, right guard and left guard.

"When I first saw and met Ray, we were in spring football and he was working out with the track team," said CSM Defensive Line Coach David Heck. "6'4" and 330 pounds does not come around too often. I remember his first play in his first game where he got driven down the field 15 yards and could not get off the block. Now he is the one driving people 15 yards down the field."

After graduating from UH on Dec. 20, 2009 with a bachelor degree in sociology, Hisatake spent three months in Arizona preparing for his Pro Day on April 1.

"I did well enough in the individual drills and managed to impress the Chicago Bear and Carolina Panther scouts," said Hisatake. "The Carolina Panthers gave me a call after the draft offering me a contract."

"Coach Heck was one of the first people outside of my family that I called," Hisatake said. "I consider Coach Heck my family and I still keep in touch with Coach O (Owens), (CSM Defensive Coordinator) Coach Tulloch and my Bulldog teammates; I will never forget the bonds of friendship I made with them."

"I felt so proud and thankful about Ray signing a pro contract; it couldn't have happened to a nicer kid," said Heck. "Coming from where he came from and never playing football to signing a pro contract is the reason I coach; just for him to have the opportunity to be in this position is a great thing. I think this is what junior college football is all about. Giving opportunities to young men that they didn't have coming out of high school."

"I'm happy for Ray," said Bulldog teammate Tevita Halaholo. "He's an athlete. I remember him doing perfect splits in the locker room; biggest dude I've ever seen do the splits. He will do a great job in the NFL."

"The coaches at CSM, they helped me a lot," said Hisatake. "Coach Owens gave me an opportunity to play despite me not having any football experience. I am proud to be part of a great football program at CSM which also helped me get ahead academically; I was able to graduate early from CSM with an AA majoring in liberal arts. Due to the program, I am the first in my family to graduate with a college degree."

"There are three things that I am really happy for him about- first that he got a scholarship to University of Hawaii, then when he got his bachelor's degree there, and now when he gets a shot at playing football professionally," said Owens.

"Ray represents what we all mean when we speak of being a Bulldog," said CSM Football Head Coach Bret Pollack. "He exemplifies our culture and fighting spirit of 'Play Hard, Never Quit' which rings true for all Bulldogs in the classroom, in the weight room, on the field, and in life. Ray continues to exemplify that culture and at the same time provide motivation for current and future CSM students and athletes."

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