Hawaii's Ilm Manning, Zion Bowens to sign NFL free-agent contracts

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Apr. 30—Former University of Hawaii offensive lineman Ilm Manning and receiver Zion Bowens reached free-agent deals with NFL teams Saturday.

Former University of Hawaii offensive lineman Ilm Manning and receiver Zion Bowens reached free-agent deals with NFL teams Saturday.

No UH player was selected in the seven-round NFL Draft, which concluded on Saturday afternoon. But soon after, the San Francisco 49ers made an offer to Manning. Later, Bowens reached an agreement with the Washington Commanders.

Both will ink standard three-year contracts for undrafted free agents. Only the signing bonuses are guaranteed. But if they make their teams, they would be in line for the rookie base salary of $750, 000 this season.

"If this is the path that God put me on, this is what I'm going to do, " said Manning, who celebrated the news with family and friends at a viewing party in Arizona. "I'm going to make the best of it, and have fun."

Manning holds the UH durability record for an O-lineman, playing in 62 of a possible 64 games, all at tackle. He amassed 119 knockdown blocks in 13 games in 2022. Manning projects as a guard or center with the 49ers.

"He wanted to learn to play other positions, " UH offensive line coach Roman Sapolu said of Manning's cross-training in practices. "He's been the left tackle for the University of Hawaii for many, many years, but he wanted to set himself up to prove he can be versatile, which he has. He has a lot of untapped potential."

Roman Sapolu's father, Jesse, is a former UH center who won four Super Bowls with the 49ers. The elder Sapolu serves as the 49ers' alumni coordinator and with community relations. "He's got the ability to make the move (inside ), " Jesse Sapolu said of Manning. "The quickness he showed at UH can be used inside."

Manning said he is scheduled to report to minicamp on May 11.

Bowens was regarded as one of the fastest Warriors. During a combine in Colorado in 2017, Bowens was timed at 4.33 seconds over 40 yards. In team testing last summer, he was clocked at a prorated 23.23 mph. Last week, the Commanders contacted Bowens, asking for basic information. During the draft, Bobby Engram, the Commanders' new receivers coach, called Bowens. After the draft, an offer was made.

"It feels great, " Bowens said. "I'm ready to get to work."

Bowens said he is open to playing any role. "I'll probably compete for a receiver spot, but I'm definitely willing to play special teams, just to get on the field, " Bowens said.

Bowens will report to the Commanders' minicamp next week.

Former UH nose tackle Blessman Ta 'ala and linebacker Penei Pavihi are American Samoa natives who are eligible for this week's Canadian Football League Draft.