Thursday, January 21, 1999
The Iolani back says theBy Pat Bigold
school's academic reputation and
coach's low-key approach
swayed his pick
Iolani's Joe Igber, the most productive high school running back in Hawaii history, has made an oral commitment to attend the University of California.
Igber said last night he will sign his letter of intent in the Iolani headmaster's office on Feb. 3, the first day that recruits can make signed commitments.
He said his decision is based upon how long the school has shown interest in him, as well as the reputation of Cal's architectural and engineering programs.
Igber, who gained a state career prep record of 4,472 yards, had accepted invitations to visit the campuses of Cal, Wisconsin, Washington, Northwestern and Stanford. He ended up canceling the Stanford and Northwestern trips.
He agreed this week to a home visit from Hawaii coach June Jones, who will be at the Igber home today.
"But it's more of a courtesy, because I've always said I would listen to anyone willing to pay for my education," Igber said.
"I just like the scale of things at Cal," Igber said. "It's not too big and not too small. It's like another Iolani."
He said he was impressed with Cal coach Tom Holmoe's earthy approach to recruiting him.
"He took me to McDonald's or a little place by the dock to eat," Igber said. "I didn't like being dined at nationally renowned restaurants. Like when I went to Washington, we ate at an expensive restaurant called the Metropolitan. While that's nice and everything, it's not where I'd be eating every day."
Igber said if Jones had entered the picture earlier he might have given Hawaii more consideration. He said the first contact he received from former coach Fred vonAppen's staff was late in the 1998 season. The first contact from a Jones assistant came shortly after Jones was hired.
Igber said Holmoe and his staff had shown serious interest since last spring and that Cal had been a front-runner all along.
Igber also said he believes it is wise to further his education in a place where he would not be in the glare of public scrutiny over his athletic accomplishments. He said he considered the plight of former St. Louis star George Ornellas, who passed up Iowa State to stay home amid high expectations from the local community. Ornellas did not complete his freshman year.
"I like Cal-Berkeley because it's a place where nobody knows me and the main thing is working on my degree," Igber said..
"I don't like being in the limelight, and I think if I went to UH, I would be. Reporters have called and asked me to send them my stats, but I don't really like doing that. My stats got me where I needed to go, and now I'm there."
Igber, who earned a 4.0 GPA last semester, said he is aiming to graduate as high as possible in his Iolani class while finishing his final semester with course work in creative writing, symmetry science, calculus and conceptual physics.
Igber said he is not sure whether he will redshirt or play in his freshman year.
"Coach Holmoe said I could play if I came out in shape and learned the offense," he said.
Tailback Marcus Fields, who led Cal rushers with 734 yards and four touchdowns, will return as a junior. The Golden Bears were 5-6 last season.
"I get the feeling they are looking for Joe to contribute right away," Iolani coach Wendell Look said. "I don't get the feeling they want to redshirt him."
A rundown of state records held by Iolani running back Joe Igber:
A career for the record books
Yards rushing, career: 4,472
Touchdowns, career: 56
Points scored, career: 336
Touchdowns, single season: 27
Points scored, single-season: 162
Yards rushing, game: 352
Touchdowns, game: 6
Igber's 2,017 yards rushing this season is the second best year in Hawaii history. The single-season record of 2,025, set in 1990, is held by Kahuku's High's Mark Atuaia.