A 23-year-old Bohol native has inched closer to realizing his dream of becoming the second full-blooded Filipino in the National Football League (NFL), the most popular sports league in the US.
Paul Makinano, who traces his roots to Tagbilaran City, was invited to show off his wares at the NFL’s Regional Combine Invitational in Indianapolis last month and he has appeared to have turned several scouts’ heads.
Makinano told the Chronicle that teams have been contacting him following the invite-only scouting combine which was attended by over 100 draft-eligible football players from across the US.
He said his agent is in talks with NFL clubs including the New England Patriots.
“I did really well. All of the results from my combine were similar to the results of the kids in my position at the bigger combine,” Makinano said, adding that a larger combine called NFL Scouting Combine was held prior to the one he attended. “The kids that got invited to the bigger combine are the kids who went to bigger schools.”
Over 300 football players from across the US joined the Regional Combine Invitation and the NFL Scouting Combine, but only around 60 of them are projected to be picked during the NFL Draft on April 23 to 25, which however may be postponed due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.
The 5’11” linebacker said that workouts with clubs and other football activities have been postponed amid the rapid spread of the disease in the US which has temporarily shut down sports leagues including the NBA.
Makinano grew up in Tagbilaran City and studied at Holy Spirit School before migrating to the US with his family at the age of 11 in 2007.
He admittedly knew nothing about football when he was younger and was more inclined to picking up a basketball than a football, like most Filipino boys. But it wasn’t long after arriving in the US when the young athlete learned to love football.
“When I moved her, basketball was always my number one sport then once I started watching football, that’s when I fell in love with it and I started playing it,” he said.
Makinano went to the Ansonia High School in Connecticut where he played for the school’s varsity team, the Chargers.
The Chargers, with Makinano as linebacker, won 47 games in a row from 2013 to 2015 and won a state championship. He later played for Sacred Heart University in Connecticut and then East Carolina University in North Carolina where he graduated.
While he waits for workouts with teams and the draft which remain in limbo due to the coronavirus, Makinano continues his rigorous daily training under coach Frank Quido at workout facility Breakout Athlete in Connecticut.
“Right now I’m still keeping up with my training, I am training every single day,” he said.
Unlike in the NBA, football players with Filipino lineage have had more luck in making it into the NFL.
There have been several Filipino-American players in the NFL including Roman Gabriel, Steve Slaton and Teddy Lacap Bruschi, who Makinano admits to idolize, but so far, there has been only one full-blooded Filipino who played in the league, Eugene Amano of the Tennessee Titans.
Amano however has retired and Makinano seeks to be the next and only active full-blooded Filipino in the league.