Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, January 21, 2002

Ma‘afala picks UH;
Fonoti to Stanford

The Kamehameha defensive
lineman will stay a Warrior, while
St. Louis' linebacker decides to go away

By Dave Reardon

Kamehameha defensive lineman Albert Ma'afala became the fourth player on the Star-Bulletin's Top Ten list of the state's college football prospects to verbally commit to Hawaii yesterday.

Also, Star-Bulletin all-state linebacker Taualai Fonoti from St. Louis made a verbal commitment to Stanford at the conclusion of his visit to California yesterday.

Ma'afala (6 feet 2, 270 pounds) is No. 7 on the prospect list. He chose Hawaii over Washington, Oregon and Washington State. He is the nephew of former UH defensive lineman Nick Ma'afala, who died of leukemia last year, and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, a Pittsburgh Steelers running back.

Brandon Ala, Ma'afala's linemate at Kamehameha and the state's No. 2 prospect, also visited UH over the weekend, but has not made a commitment. Kahuku defensive end Jonathan Mapu, the state's top prospect, visited Tennessee and will visit Hawaii this weekend.

Fonoti chose Stanford after also visiting UCLA, Hawaii and Nebraska.

Although he was leaning toward Stanford all along, Fonoti said he did not decide until yesterday. He said being part of a new beginning appealed to him; Stanford's new coach, Buddy Teevens, is bringing in a completely new staff.

"That means everyone is learning a new system," Fonoti said. "Everyone will be learning together, not just the newcomers."

The Cardinal's three starting linebackers last year were all seniors, so Fonoti (6 feet 1, 240 pounds) said he will have a chance to compete for playing time right away.

He said he spoke with his brother, Nebraska All-American offensive lineman Toniu, yesterday morning before deciding.

"He just told me to choose the school I felt most comfortable with," Taualai said.

Fonoti said he was hosted by volleyball player Logan Tom, who has Hawaii ties, and defensive end Matt Leonard.

"The school is so big we all rode around it in golf carts," he said.

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