HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITING
Dulan picks BYU; Te‘o off to UNLV
The closer it gets to letter-of-intent day -- Wednesday -- the purer the quality for each individual athlete's quest.
Some football players see it as a day of aspiration in a higher realm. For Kamehameha-Hawaii defensive end Ian Dulan, that means a commitment to BYU.
For other standout student-athletes, LOI day is a recognition rather than a compromise. It is a day when clarity unveils the future. That means, for a prolific quarterback like Iolani's Kiran Kepo'o, weighing unexpectedly limited opportunities.
From LSU to Manoa, the scholarship and trip offers came for island prospects.
By Wednesday morning, dozens of them will sign on the dotted line and fax their futures to the universities of their choice. It is the only time in their lives, really, when they should be allowed to be selfish -- in a good way.
Among the handful of oral commitments in the past week is one by Dulan, who will join another local player, offensive lineman Walter Kahaiali'i of Kamehameha-Maui, at Provo.
"He plays both (at tackle and end) for us," Kamehameha-Hawaii athletic director Bob Wagner said. "It's harder to find inside guys. Great first step, gets off the ball, good with his hands and can really accelerate. He runs very well in a restricted area. He only played three years of football."
Weber State was also interested in Dulan.
"Other schools would have offered him. Once BYU got in the picture, other people wanted to trip him," Wagner said. "Especially with the neighbor island kids, if UH doesn't get out, then the other schools are less apt to come out."
Utah and Colorado State were among the schools that were willing to host Dulan, but he wouldn't change his mind.
"He's a strong commit. He visited BYU the first week of January," Wagner said.
"It's hard for me emotionally. After all those years of coaching at UH, it was a little tough to see our first football recruit go to BYU, but Robert Anae is a good coach and a good guy," Wagner said of the Cougars' new offensive coordinator and O-line coach.
Dulan helped the Warriors reach the Division II state tournament for the first time. He is the first KS-Hawaii football player -- this is the school's inaugural senior class -- to receive a football scholarship.
Dulan isn't the first athlete from the Keaau campus to receive an athletic scholarship, however. That honor belongs to basketball player Leilani Galdones, who committed to Hawaii last year.
At least two other KS-Hawaii players have the ability to play Division I football, according to Wagner, the former UH head coach. Quarterback Mana Silva has the size at 6-1, 200 pounds.
"A lot of people like Mana, but they like him as a safety type. All his film was at quarterback, and he only played one game on defense, at cornerback (against Konawaena)," Wagner noted.
Placekicker Leon Peralto, a Star-Bulletin second-team All-State selection, has a tough choice to make.
"Leon has been accepted to Stanford. They want him to walk on. They have a guy in the program, but they're not going to give him a scholarship right now," Wagner said of Peralto, who has 55-yard range and regularly kicks off into the end zone.
Peralto has a scholarship offer from Idaho State.
Three Kahuku players have confirmed their commitments -- linebackerdefensive end Micah Wily, safety Suaesi Tuimaunei and running back Malosi Te'o.
Wily (6-0, 226) has given his oral commitment to former UH coach Dick Tomey at San Jose State.
Tuimaunei (6-1, 182), a first-team All-Stater, has committed to Oregon State. The senior, who came up with an interception to stymie Punahou in the waning seconds of the state title game, visited the Beavers two weeks ago.
Te'o, another first-team All-State pick, had a spectacular second half of the season as the primary runner in Kahuku's I formation. The 5-11, 200-pound senior gave his commitment to UNLV.
With the three commits, Kahuku now has six oral commits to Division I universities, and more are likely on the way.
Here's a look at more local recruits.
Kepo'o had another banner season as Iolani's run-and-shoot gunslinger. The 6-2, 220-pound senior led the Raiders to their first Division II state crown.
In the two months since the end of the season, however, the soft-spoken Kepo'o has dealt with some disappointment. Arizona had shown interest, but backed off later. UCLA likes him, but in a different way.
"It's not turning out how I wanted. UCLA wanted me to play on the defensive side, but I've been playing quarterback since my eighth-grade year," said Kepo'o, a pocket passer who was difficult to bring down on rare scrambles. "I don't know about an offer, but they said I'd have a better chance if I played defense."
That's why Kepo'o's relationship with Hawaii assistants Dan Morrison and Ron Lee is proving invaluable. UH may not have a plethora of scholarships to give out this year, but it has made its interest in the Iolani honor student abundantly clear.
Morrison, the Warriors quarterback coach, and Lee, the receivers coach, have spent a good amount of time talking with Kepo'o. Like the two coaches, Kepo'o has a casual demeanor. He visited the Manoa campus earlier this month.
"After my visit, they told me that I probably would have to walk on, but a few days later, the situation changed and they said they could give me a scholarship in January," he said of the grayshirt opportunity.
"The thing with grayshirting is, I didn't want to hinder my education, but I found out I can actually start school and take nine credits," said Kepo'o, who takes advanced-placement courses in biology and statistics at Iolani.
Helping his parents out is another big plus.
"One of my concerns was getting any kind of financial help. On Monday, I'll have a meeting with my family and my counselors and go over everything. Then I'll get back to Coach Lee. The probability of me signing with them on Wednesday is pretty high," he said.
Kepo'o flourished under Raiders coach Wendell Look. Iolani's no-huddle offense relied heavily on proper reads by Kepo'o, who had a notable tutor in former Saint Louis quarterback Joel Lane.
"I know the college level is a lot different, everyone's a lot quicker and my reads are gonna have to be a lot quicker. With the background and system I come from, I think I should be OK. Coach Joel is really great. He knows how to read a defense, he knew how I should get the ball out to them," Kepo'o said.
Commits: Cameron Higgins, Saint Louis to Weber State; Kaulin Krebs, Kahuku to Oregon State; Kali Kuia, Aiea to Northern State; Brad Padayao, Kapolei to Air Force.
Commits: Kealoha Pilares, Damien to Air Force; Malosi Te'o, Kahuku to UNLV.
Commit: Jon Santiago, Kapolei to Air Force.
Commits: Chris Anakalea, Aiea to Northern State; Whitley Fehoko, Farrington to San Diego State; Walter Kahaiali'i, Kamehameha-Maui to BYU; Micah Kia, Mililani to UCLA; Ryan Pohl, Kamehameha to Oregon State; Nevoka Sueoka, Aiea to Northern State.
Commits: Joseph Faifili, Kahuku to Utah; Peni Fiuangaihetau, Lahainaluna to Weber State; Clayton Laurel, Leilehua to Hawaii; Lolomana Mikaele, Damien to Arizona; Jonathan Overton, Punahou to Utah State; Kawika Shook, Kamehameha to New Mexico State; Michael Sipili, Damien to Oregon State; Alasi Toilolo, Kapolei to Hawaii.
UH is taking a closer look at Pac-Five's Russel Fisher. The 6-1 1/2, 251-pound senior class president at Mid-Pacific Institute was underexposed for much of the season because the Wolfpack were not one of the elite teams in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
In addition, he did not send out videotape until the end of the season. By then, many schools had run out of scholarships to offer the first-team All-State selection.
Commits: B.J. Beatty, Kahuku to Colorado; Ian Dulan, Kamehameha-Hawaii to BYU; Elliott Purcell, Saint Louis to Hawaii; Dylan Rush, Konawaena to UCLA; Russell Wantowski, Radford to New Mexico State.
Twin brothers Devin and Kevin Unga visited a few schools this month. Devin (6-1, 201) was a first-team All-State tight end, but projects as a linebacker at the next level. Kevin (6-1, 220) was a first-team All-State pick at linebacker. They visited Oregon State and Utah, their home state, in recent weeks.
Commits: Po'okela Ahmad, Kapolei to Hawaii; Mana Lolotai, Kamehameha to Oregon State; Jared Silva, Saint Louis to Nevada; Quinton Tang, Moanalua to Hawaii; Micah Wily, Kahuku to San Jose State.
Commits: Kenny Estes, Waimea to Hawaii; Stanford Leti, Moanalua to Hawaii; Jensen Somera, Baldwin to Weber State; Suaesi Tuimaunei, Kahuku to Oregon State.