Haloti Ngata, an incredibly gifted athlete who led Highland HS of Salt Lake City, Utah to multiple National High School Rugby Championships, was recently named the Most Valuable Defensive Player on Sports Illustrated’s Mid-Season, NFL All-Pro Team.
A defensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, the SI article states: “At 6’4”and 350 pounds, the fifth year veteran is an amazingly strong pass rusher," said SI. "Opposing O-lines consistently dedicate two blockers to deal with him.
“A space eater on a top flight D, he commands extra attention and still makes plays. Opposing teams are using two players to block this incredibly strong rusher.”
Ngata was born in Inglewood, California 26 years ago. He was a major part of the powerful Highland teams around the turn of the 21st Century, steamrolling through opponents as a lock forward.
Following his graduation from Highland HS, he attended the University of Oregon where he was a starting defensive tackle on the football team.
At Oregon, Ngata became one of the best players in college football. He totaled 107 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks total in the 2004 and 2005 seasons and was a consensus All-American pick in 2005: Oregon's first in 43 years. Ngata also earned praise as a dangerous special teams player, blocking 7 kicks during his 3 year career at Oregon.
Ngata was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round (12th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft, agreeing to a 5-year contract worth up to $14 million. He started all 16 games his rookie season, and finished the campaign with 31 tackles, one sack and an interception. The following season, he made 63 tackles and three sacks, and was acknowledged as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL after his dominant 2007 and 2008 performances.
He has repeatedly credited rugby with helping him be so agile for a big man.
In the 2009 season, Ngata had 35 tackles and 1.5 sacks, which earned him his first career Pro Bowl selection.