Leilehua's Laurel picks UH
A promising season at Leilehua was bogged down by injuries, much like the mud of the Mules' home field.
One of the gems, however, was a resilient defense that ranked first in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West. Perhaps the most stunning facet of the Mule defense came in the trenches, where Clayton Laurel was a first-year defensive tackle.
Laurel caught the attention of the University of Hawaii recently and gave the Warriors a oral commitment yesterday.
UH made its push for the 6-foot-3, 255-pound senior after watching videotape produced by the Leilehua coaching staff. Laurel, who already had a scholarship offer from New Mexico State, didn't hesitate to pick Hawaii.
Laurel, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound senior, had not played football since Pop Warner. When he tried out for the Mules football team, the basketball standout was ready.
Defensive line coaches Rod York and Tanu York had included Laurel in their strenuous offseason training regimen. When Leilehua's linebacker corps was decimated by injuries, the D-line fortified the unit.
Laurel was an honorable-mention pick by OIA Red West coaches, but his upside was too big for Hawaii to ignore.
"UH wanted to get on him right away before he went anywhere else. New Mexico State wanted him to take a trip and a scholarship," Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said. Oregon State was also becoming interested in Laurel.
"I think Cavanaugh was thinking of having him take a trip," Tokuda said of Beavers assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh, the former UH offensive line coach.
What separated Laurel from other D-line prospects, Tokuda said, was technique.
"It's leverage. The techniques that were taught by Tanu and Rod, using your hands, he was able to take on double teams," Tokuda noted. "You gotta have something in you to take on double teams all game long."
Another key factor is Laurel's academic status. He carries a 3.6 grade-point average and is already an NCAA Division I qualifier.
"He's a good kid, a quiet kid. He doesn't try to do anything spectacular. He gets the job done," Tokuda said.
Ideally, the Mules coach added, Laurel will have time to develop.
"I would redshirt him the first year and let him get stronger, to get acclimated to the program. He's still raw, still learning the game," Tokuda said.