ANCHORAGE - A graduate of East Anchorage High School was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals Sunday in the fifth round of the National Football League draft.
Mao Tosi, a former University of Idaho defensive tackle and 1995 East High graduate, was picked 136th overall, making him the fifth Alaskan in 11 years to be drafted.
``I was excited,'' Tosi said from Moscow, Idaho. ``It's nice, and I'm glad to be going there. Now that I know where I'm going, I'm just ready to roll.''
Tosi, 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, is scheduled to report to the Cardinals mini-camp in Tempe, Ariz., in two weeks.
If the 23-year-old earns a roster spot, he'll join four veteran players from Alaska scheduled to play in the NFL this season - Anchorage's Mark Schlereth of the Denver Broncos, Kenai's Travis Hall of the Atlanta Falcons and Lathrop graduates Shane Bonham of the Indianapolis Colts and Reggie Tongue of the Seattle Seahawks.
``I think the Cardinals like his athletic ability and everything he brings to the table,'' said Ken Staninger, Tosi's agent in Missoula, Mont. ``I think they also like the fact that he hasn't been developed yet, that he's a raw talent.''
Tosi was a defensive lineman and tight end for East's football team and a center for its basketball team.
``What a lot of people don't remember,'' said former East football coach Mark Whitehurst, ``is that he also played fullback, and he had the softest pair of hands for a big man. We threw to him a lot, and he had a lot of speed for big guy, too. He was a tough kid, and I think he's going to be a tough man in the NFL.''
Tosi was named the state basketball player of the year his senior season, and after graduating, he was a center for two seasons for Butler County Community College of El Dorado, Kan.
Idaho recruited him for basketball with an agreement that he could try out for the Vandals football team. He arrived there after the 1997 football season ended, but he made it to the 1998 spring camp, where he was impressive enough to earn a starting position.
``Basketball helped me out a lot with my footwork for football,'' said Tosi, ``and I was already used to the physical contact, because I was a bruiser in basketball.''