Cleveland Browns draft Sione Takitaki with 80th pick in the NFL draft

Sione Takitaki looks onward as the Cougars lifted their record to 4-3 on the season against Hawai’i. (Claire Gentry)

Star linebacker Sione Takitaki has found his new home.

Instead of a donning the blue and white this upcoming fall, the 230-pound linebacker will put on a brown and white jersey and join the Cleveland Browns on the gridiron.

Despite a rough start to his college career that included being thrown off the team as a freshman for a dorm room fight and having to sit out for a full season due to a misdemeanor charge in 2016, Takitaki was able to mature and find his balance as a Cougar. Becoming an incredible inspiration and role model, Takitaki made himself into a leader, being named a team captain in 2018. He had a standout senior campaign for the Cougars which included 74 solo tackles and 9 tackles for loss. His season total of 118 tackles was good enough to be recognized among the top 50 tacklers in the nation, ranking 31st among all defenders in total tackles.

The native of Fontana, California, turned his career around and appeared in every game over his final two seasons. He was named to the All-Bowl Team in 2018 after leading all defensive players in the nation with 18 total tackles in his bowl game. In addition, Takitaki was the only BYU representative at the 2018 NFL combine. He was the fifth linebacker to be taken in the 2019 draft.

Takitaki joins an exciting Browns team that has high hopes for the 2019-20 season after years of dismal performances and teams that left fans in an array. Cleveland has been unable to put together a winning campaign in 12 straight years, and only twice in the last 25 years have the Browns boasted a record of .500. The 2019-20 roster is all but sure to change this pattern. With promising talents on offense, such as second-year starter and former Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Nick Chubb and the addition of Pro-Bowl wideout Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns are projected to have their best season in more than a decade.

On the other side of the ball, Cleveland is led by former first overall pick Myles Garrett, in addition to Christian Kirksey, Damarious Randall, Jamie Collins, and Denzel Ward. Takitaki will look to help the Browns become one of the league’s best defensive squads.

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