Friday, January 4, 2002
[ PREP FOOTBALL ]
Iolani defensive lineman Donny Mateaki, one of the state's most coveted high school prospects, will pursue his college football career in the Pacific Northwest.
Iolanis Mateaki commits
By Jason Kaneshiro
Mateaki, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound defensive end, verbally committed to attend Washington yesterday afternoon. Mateaki notified Washington assistant coach Tom Williams of his decision after also considering Nebraska, Colorado and Oregon.
"At Washington, I felt at home," Mateaki said. "I felt pretty good about Colorado and Oregon, but at Nebraska I felt I would have a hard time adjusting to the lifestyle. But at Washington I felt I could fit right in with the program and hopefully do something."
Mateaki said he still plans to meet with Hawaii coaches as a courtesy, but his mind is set to play for the Huskies next fall.
"He really thought about this hard and looked at all the right things," Iolani coach Wendell Look said. "I really admire him for making a very mature decision about where he's going to go. ... He took some care and responsibility in making it."
Mateaki is ranked 72nd by the Rivals 100, which rates the nation's best recruits. He is also the nation's sixth-best defensive end prospect according to Rivals.com.
Look said Mateaki has passed his SAT and is in good academic standing at Iolani.
"I think what sets him above the rest is his work ethic," Look said. "What you see now is due to a lot of hard work. When we first got him as a freshman he was built like a rail and kind of uncoordinated. But the frame was there and he saw that football could be his ticket to college and was determined to make it, both academically and athletically. Washington is going to get a quality student-athlete."
Washington posted an 8-4 record this season, 6-2 in the Pac-10 conference. The Huskies finished the season with a 47-43 loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
Mateaki was hosted at the Seattle campus by local products Willie Kava (Iolani) and Joe Lobendahn (St. Louis), and met with former Washington standouts Ikaika Malloe and Ink Aleaga. Williams also has island ties as a former Hawaii assistant coach. He coached three seasons under Fred vonAppen.
"When they recruited me they didn't put any pressure on me at all, they just let me go and decide on my own" Mateaki said. "But other schools, like Colorado, wanted verbals right away. It was probably the biggest decision I've ever made and I don't think I'd make it just two weeks after visiting them."
Mateaki's decision also added to a bad day for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers lost their shot at the national championship by being blown out by Miami in the Rose Bowl.
"I went into this thing thinking I was just going to go to Nebraska no matter what," Mateaki said. "But I went there and felt it wasn't for me."
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