Vince Manuwai doesn't just enter a room, he envelops the space. So, when he enters the closet-size office that overlooks the Athletic & Personal Development program weight room for a post-workout chat, it's something like sharing an elevator with a 330-pound, ink-covered boulder.
His voice, though, belies his monstrous frame. Soft, but deliberate. Thankful, not arrogant. Even when he talks about his notable achievements, he does it with a disclaimer.
âI'm not saying it was all me - I had a lot of help - but seven out of the eight years I started (for Jacksonville), we had a 1,000-yard rusher,â he says. âLook at the numbers last year. Twelve games, no penalties, one sack allowed and opened holes for a running back who made the Pro Bowl. What else do you want from a lineman?â
Manuwai asks the question only half-rhetorically, because he's now trying to find a place on another NFL roster after spending eight seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and being released by the team this offseason. Now, he spends his days at IMG Academy doing Physical Conditioning, Nutrition Training and other disciplines to show the league that he's still one of the top lineman.
The result? He's down to his ideal playing weight of 331.
âThere's a difference between 331 untrained and 331 trained,â he says with a laugh. âI feel leaner. My body feels more stable. I've been doing everything right. Eating right. Getting rest. I feel good.â
That he made it this far as professional football player is surprising enough. Growing up the oldest of seven siblings in a poor area of Hawai'i, Manuwai found his outlet through football, but never actually thought about making a career of it. When June Jones recruited him to the University of Hawai'I, his only thought was Hey, at least now I don't have to go right to work after high school.
Not until he saw pro scouts at games did he start considering pro football. After going in the 3rd round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Manuwai helped the Jaguars become one of the league's toughest running offenses.
Now, he's ready to prove to the world he can still dominate because his desire for the game hasn't changed.
âIt's man on man,â he says, focusing in on your eyes as if he's already back on the line and the ball is about to be snapped.
âWhen I line up on the ground, I want that yard and I'm going to get it.â