DeForest Buckner didn’t have the Polynesian Bowl to showcase his talents during his standout career at Punahou, and he wanted the high school players playing in this Saturday’s game to understand how fortunate they are to be where they are today.
“I was seeing how much fun they were having, especially throughout the week and everything, but I wanted to remind them why they’re here and what got them here,” Buckner said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s the work they put it and I just don’t want them to get caught up in being in Hawaii and thinking it’s a vacation - it’s actually another opportunity to show coaches around the country what they can do and just being able to take advantage of the opportunity they have.”
Buckner, who is regarded as one of the NFL’s most disruptive interior defensive linemen for the San Francisco 49ers, told the 2018 Polynesian Bowl invitees that if given a choice back during his senior year of high school, he would’ve chosen to play in the Polynesian Bowl over any All-American game thrown his way.
“Being able to get more exposure for the Polynesian guys, because we do have a lot of talent, and we never get the credit we deserve sometimes,” he said. “So being able to have the exposure being on T.V. and everything, it’s a really good opportunity for these kids.”
Thursday was the first time that Buckner has been able to attend practice and get an up-close look at some of the best Polynesian football players in the country. But Buckner didn’t just come to watch and show face.
“I wanted to be able to help the guys out as much as I could. Especially during one-on-ones with the D-line and the O-line, being able to actually see the guys and how they perform and everything,” Buckner said. “It was nice to be hands on and be able to work with them.”
Having NFL players like Danny Shelton and Buckner in attendance during practices has made a difference for a lot of players, particularly St. Louis quarterback Chevan Cordeiro who appreciates Buckner’s mentality and mindset going into this weekend.
“We’re here because we worked hard this whole offseason,” Cordeiro said. “We’re having fun playing around, we just gotta be serious and work hard.”
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