Friday, February 9, 2001
Jones: Best cropLast year, University of Hawaii head coach June Jones relied on the local recruits to tell the story. This season, it was the mainland that produced most of the headlines.
Bass, Ilaoa and Curnan are
among the jewels from
across the nation
Options for Daniels, Kapanui
By Paul Arnett
Calling it perhaps the best haul from the continent in school history, Jones countered the shortcomings on the local end with three stars from Virginia and Southern California. Hawaii beat out Nebraska and Texas A&M for Isaak Sopoaga, a College of the Canyons (Calif.) prospect who brings All-America credentials with him.
The Warriors also landed Mike Bass, from Centennial High in Corona, Calif., who rushed for 41 touchdowns last year. He was the CIF offensive player of the year, the MVP of the Mountain View League and voted one of the top high school competitors in Southern California by ESPN.com.
UH is still waiting on a letter of intent from Washington Post metro player of the year Nate Ilaoa. The wideout could become a defensive back, but Jones will wait to make that determination in fall camp.
"I think we probably did better on the mainland with the quality of the players we got than ever before probably at the school, so that's pretty positive," Jones said during yesterday's press conference. "We beat out schools like Nebraska for players, and that's something this school has never done before."
Still, Jones conceded that he wanted to keep more of the local players at home, and that perhaps last season's 3-9 mark contributed to the mainland pipeline -- with Hawaii high school players going to Washington, Wisconsin, Colorado, Brigham Young and Utah.
"I think that some kids just want to go away to school," Jones said. "I think we need the commitment from the local high school coaches, which has been great since I've been here.
"But I think in order to really get to where we need to go, we need kind of everybody to encourage the kids to stay home."
Once everyone is in -- at this point, the Warriors have received 20 letters of intent -- eight will be via the junior college route. It's not as high as the 14 Jones signed his first year in the program, but it's an indication of the shortcomings of former head coach Fred vonAppen's last two recruiting classes.
Jones believes wideout Omar Bennett, who dropped out of the University of California, will be a special player for Hawaii. He transferred to Laney Community College and is the second Golden Bears player to join the program. The other, Wayne Hunter, transferred to UH last summer with fellow defensive lineman Travis Laboy, who came over from Utah State.
How the transfers fit into the scholarship count is still being determined.
UH has scholarships available from players who left the program. Quarterback Mike Harrison departed in December, defensive back Tyson Hampton was asked to leave for off-the-field problems and offensive lineman Chris Pinkney was let go at midterm for health reasons.
There were some rumors flying around late last year that there would be some coaching changes, but Jones quelled those yesterday by saying everyone would be on board in the spring.
"Except for Dennis McKnight," Jones said. "He's having surgery and may not be back for practice. But he'll join us over the summer. Our staff will pretty much have the same responsibilities. I think we have the best staff in the country."
Jones credits assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh for finding Ilaoa in Virginia and Bass in Southern California. The offensive line coach also brought on board Mike Holt, who is one of three junior college prospects already enrolled in school.
"We got the top local defensive player (St. Louis School linebacker Ikaika Curnan), a top player from the eastern part of the country (Ilaoa) and one from Southern California (Bass). So I like what I see."
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII RECRUITS
Name Position Ht. Wt. Last School Mike Bass RB 5-6 165 Centennial (Calif) H.S. Omar Bennett WR 6-1 180 Laney (Calif) College Lamar Broadway DB 5-11 175 Centennial (Calif) High Tyrone Brown LB 6-2 225 Highland (Calif) High Ikaika Curnan LB 5-11 230 St. Louis (Honolulu) Brandon Eaton OL 6-4 290 Worthing (Texas) High Jean Elise CB 5-9 180 El Camino (Calif) Col y-Donny Faaliliu LB 6-1 240 L.A. Harbor College Justin Faimealelei WR 6-1 205 Kaimuki H.S. (Honolulu) Pesefea Fiaseu RB 5-11 220 St. Louis (Honolulu) Josh Galeai RB 6-2 240 Palomar (Calif.) College Omega Hogan QB 5-11 180 Aldine (Texas) High y-Mike Holt OL 6-5 305 Grand Rapids (Mich) College Cameron Hollingsworth CB 6-0 175 Cascade (Wash) High x-Nate Ilaoa WR 5-10 180 N. Stafford (Va.) High Kila Kamakawiwoole WR 6-2 200 Kaimuki H.S. (Honolulu) Leo Reed Jr. LB 6-0 220 Westlake (Calif.) HIgh Jeff Rhode QB 6-5 220 Churchill (Ore) High Isaak Sopoaga DT 6-4 290 Col. of the Canyons (Cal) y-Hiram Travis DE 6-2 280 El Camino (Calif) College Lokahi Travis OL 6-3 280 Kailua H.S. (Hawaii) Matt Tupuola NT 6-3 290 El Camino (Calif.) College
x-Letter not received as of yesterday.
Ka Leo O Hawaii