Former Utah DL Tenny Palepoi makes San Diego Chargers roster; other ex-Utes less fortunate
When you're waiting on a phone call - a call that tells you about the future of your career - you want to be surrounded by friends and family.
You don't, however, want to be cooped up in a San Diego hotel room, Tenny Palepoi said. That's what he and his family decided, and they went out Saturday to "get some fresh air."
Palepoi, the former Utah defensive lineman, got to breathe also when he got the phone call he was waiting for: He's made the San Diego Chargers' 53-man roster for the upcoming NFL season after signing this May as an undrafted free agent and proving himself in training camp and the preseason.
"Sitting around waiting for the call was kind of nerve-wracking," he said. "They told me I was on [the roster] but I'm not done yet. I still got a lot to do trying to help this team win."
At 6-foot-1 and 298 pounds, Palepoi has versatility to play up to three positions on the defensive line. That skill set, he said, was key in the Chargers' decision to keep him for rotational depth. He joins fellow former Ute Eric Weddle on the roster.
The Salt Lake native, who also played for Skyline High and Snow College, said he's been mentored by Chargers' end Corey Liuget. He had eight tackles in the preseason, tied for seventh on the team.
"It means a lot," he said. "It's been my dream since I was a kid and I watched my brother [Anton Palepoi] play in the NFL. That's just made it even sweeter."
The news is just as sweet for his wife, Delaney Palepoi, and two children, Taytum and Liam.
The day's news wasn't as great for other former Utes trying to make it in the league.
The Oakland Raiders cut both tight end Jake Murphy and fullback Karl Williams. Tight end Anthony Denham missed the cut for the Houston Texans, although multiple media reported he was expected to make the practice squad.
Only days ago, the Chargers added former Ute Joe Kruger to release him a few days later. Palepoi acknowled he feels for his old teammates who haven't been as fortunate.
"I'll shoot those guys a text, and we'll talk," he said. "All of those guys are very good players. It's a crazy business, and people come in and out. I got to do what I can to keep pushing forward."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon