HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For Hawaii’s DeForest Buckner, trips back home to the islands aren’t just for vacation.
Since returning home, the 25-year-old Waianae native has made time to see friends and family while gearing up for what he is hoping will be a special 2019 NFL season.
“I always comes back a week and a half to two weeks before training camp," Buckner said. “It’s always nice to be back home.”
The former Oregon Ducks star will head back to the Bay Area next week looking to improve on what was a breakout 2018 campaign.
Despite the team’s overall record of 4-12, Buckner proved to be a bright spot for the team. The Punahou graduate notched his first career Pro Bowl after leading the team with 12 sacks for the season.
“On a personal level my game last year and my performance was the best I played," Buckner said. “Being able to make my first Pro Bowl and make a name for myself throughout the league gives me a lot of confidence going into this next season.”
Buckner was selected seventh overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2016 NFL Draft, continuing the Hawaii contingency of local players in the National Football League.
“Hawaii always had a lot of talent but we weren’t getting noticed,” Buckner said. “It’s a great feeling seeing Hawaii boys committing to all these big schools and they’re finally getting the notoriety they deserve."
Buckner has never been someone who is satisfied with past accomplishments and plans to prove to the NFL he’ll be one of the best in the league for years to come.
“I’m just really focusing on being even better," Buckner said. “Last year was great but nobody cares about what I did last year - it’s about this year."