Thursday, February 4, 1999
has big plans
The record-setting IolaniBy Pat Bigold
back will be given a chance to
make a difference in his
California head coach Tom Holmoe said Iolani running back Joe Igber Jr., the most celebrated prep football player in Hawaii the past two years, could get the ball a lot in his freshman year.
"We're not going to limit him," said Holmoe, whose Pac-10 team was 5-6 last season. "We're not expecting him to carry the team on his shoulders, but we want to give him a chance. I think his style is so entertaining, and people are going to love that."
The Nigerian-born Igber, who was a two-time all-state offensive player of the year and broke the state's career rushing record, signed a letter of intent to accept a California scholarship in the Iolani headmaster's office yesterday morning. His parents, Joseph Sr., who teaches sociology at the West Oahu campus of UH, and his mother, Theresa, an elementary school teacher, were present for the signing.
"We'll run a lot of draws, and we'll get him the ball out of the backfield," said Holmoe. "In plays where he gets the ball out in the flat -- very dangerous. We're going to try to take advantage of those skills."
Holmoe said he first saw Igber when he was a junior.
"I thought he was terrific, and he was a little guy," he said. "I told a couple of our coaches, 'God, this guy is pretty electric. We're going to get this guy.' I knew the competition in that conference (Interscholastic League of Honolulu) is great. So I knew whatever he did was no fluke."
Holmoe said he was totally sold on Igber once the recruiting process began and he was able to talk to him.
"It completed everything I thought about him," said Holmoe. "He's a fine student, a great kid, has great character, no one can say anything bad about him. The people at Iolani rave about him. It was just a matter of hearing the dreams and desires he has for his future."
Holmoe said he is supportive of Igber's drive toward an architectural or engineering career.
Igber received 4.0 grade point averages in the first and second quarters last semester.
Asked to compare Igber to any running back in college or the pros, Holmoe said, "He's a Barry Sanders style."
Ron Gould, Cal's running backs coach, agreed with the Sanders comparison.
"He's lightning quick," said Gould. "It's like he has 10 eyes. He can see things in the back of his head. He can stop on a dime, make cuts and he can accelerate. In an instant, he can get to full speed. He breaks tackles. He makes people miss. That's all what Barry Sanders does, and Joe is a tough guy."
Gould said he thinks "the sky is the limit" for Igber.
"He plays with vision and a passion. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played."
St. Louis linebacker Joe Siofele, the 1998 all-state defensive player of the year, signed his letter with Arizona. Siofele was a a Parade All-American selection and honored at the Hooters Hula Bowl as a member of Rivalnet's All-America team.
But Utah was the No. 1 recruiter of local talent in the islands yesterday with seven letters of intent.
Head coach Ron McBride said in a phone interview that this was his largest haul from Hawaii on letter of intent day.
McBride said his second biggest year here was 1995, when he signed five, including current Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala.
Utah had 12 Hawaii players on its roster last year, all with eligibility left.
Asked if he thought it was ironic that he was having his best year recruiting in Hawaii shortly after being a candidate for the Rainbows' head coaching job (now held by June Jones), McBride said, "Pretty ironic is right."
Utah signed four players with all-state backgrounds.
From Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Kahuku, the Utes got offensive lineman Siuaki Livai Jr., tight end William Sao, and safety Tavo Tupola.
From St. Louis, McBride plucked running back Noah Campbell, who was a 1997 all-state pick. He had a solid senior season and was a second-team all-stater in 1998.
Other Utah signees were wide receiver Anthony Arceneaux and offensive lineman Sean Souza of St. Louis, and offensive lineman James Tupola of Kahuku.
"I've been able to watch these kids for a long time and every one of them brings something to the table for us," said McBride.
He said Sao is the "sleeper" of the recruiting class.
"You look at his body and his long arms, and you watch him play hoops, you know he's very athletic," said McBride.
Asked why he has been so successful in the islands, McBride said he just understands that the family unit is supreme here.
"And I just love being in Hawaii," said McBride. "I like the culture, I like the people. Anytime I get the chance, I come over."