Shalom Luani made a big impact on the Cougs in his two seasons on the Palouse. The defense hadn’t seen someone who could lay the wood quite like him since Deone Bucannon was drafted following the 2013 season and his All Pac-12 First Team status his senior year cemented his excellent legacy.
Now, that’s paying off for Luani. The American Samoa native was taken in the seventh round of the NFL Draft today by the Oakland Raiders.
A part of Alex Grinch’s vaunted ball-hawking defenses, Luani racked up eight interceptions in his two years at WSU, including one to seal an overtime win in Eugene and another returned for a touchdown against Oregon State in 2015. He also forced three fumbles throughout his career and recovered one.
Luani spent plenty of time in the offensive backfield too, racking up 11.5 tackles for a loss, about half of them coming after his switch to nickelback in the 2016 season.
What Luani lacked in pass coverage skills, he made up for in his tackling and pursuit. He rarely took a bad angle to a ball carrier or through blockers. If he managed to get his paws on you, it was difficult to get them off. And, as previously mentioned, the some of the hits could cause audible gasps in Martin Stadium.
Luani spent the first two years of his collegiate career at City College of San Francisco, where he was named a first-team All-American and the California Community College Defensive Player of the Year in his sophomore campaign.
Luani is the first WSU secondary player to be drafted since Deone Bucannon was selected in the 1st round by the Arizona Cardinals in 2014.