Decision day looms for seniors


POSTED: Sunday, February 01, 2009

He's the man on a bubble.

James Smith isn't alone, though. Like many outstanding athletes, the Farrington senior is not yet an NCAA Division I academic qualifier. He is, though, close enough that he hasn't ruled out the possibility.

What's the possibility? If Smith, a Star-Bulletin All-State first-team football selection, can thrive in his academics this spring, a spot on the University of Hawaii roster may be in his future.

The academic part: passing Algebra II—a UH requirement—and recording a solid score on his SAT in March.

At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, his play at safety was one of many defensive strengths for the Governors. Several of his teammates, All-State selections in their own right, will play at junior colleges this fall. For Smith, JC is Plan B.

“;If I take the junior college route, I'd have to wait two years (to graduate). You only get three years of D-I experience,”; he said. “;I want to go straight to UH and get my experience, build my confidence.”;

Warriors defensive backs coach Rich Miano has been Smith's link to Manoa. Miano is still one of the school's greatest walk-on stories, arriving from Kaiser, developing into a starting safety with All-WAC honors before leaping into a long NFL career.

“;He likes the way I play,”; Smith said. “;My techniques and the way I get over the top.”;

Smith's athleticism isn't limited to the secondary. During one spell, he stepped in at quarterback for the Govs and passed the ball with zip. He also returned kicks and punted. This winter, he's a starting guard on the basketball team.

His free throw with 1 second left in regulation tied the game with Kalaheo on Friday. The Govs went on to a 55-50 double-overtime win.

Here's a look at some of the islands' top prospects, position by position, as letter-of-intent day nears. Seniors can sign their letters beginning Wednesday.


Offensive linemen

The oral commitments here include Jordan Loeffler (Hilo), Benson Ma'afala (Mililani) and Chauncy Winchester-Makainai (Kailua) to Hawaii and Kapua Sai (Saint Louis) to Utah.

Kapolei's Stan Hasiak (6-6, 330) is still a switchover commit from UCLA to Cal, but until his promise is in writing, anything could happen. Hasiak visited the USC campus this weekend.

Tytan Timoteo (Saint Louis) gave Weber State an oral commitment recently. Waialua's Hunter Thomson is visiting the campus this weekend.

Mana Greig (Saint Louis) and Elliot Kastner (Hawaii Prep) have interest from several universities. Greig (5-11, 285) heard from Oregon, Utah and Washington. Kastner (6-2, 252) had Amherst, Brown and Dartmouth as possibilities. He could walk on at Duke.


Running backs

Three players have made oral commitments, though two of them had more snaps on defense as seniors.

Dalton Hilliard (Punahou) has been an unwavering commit to UCLA since his decision in late October. Hilliard (6-0, 190) could move to slotback, wideout or even cornerback with the Bruins, or remain in the backfield.

Simione Vehikite raised eyebrows last week by making a visit to Washington even though he had committed to USC. Vehikite (6-1, 245) had been on Hawaii's radar early in the season, going back to UH's summer camp. Vehikite, who is not yet a qualifier, was not offered by the Warriors and he nearly fell through the cracks.

However, then-USC assistant coach Steve Sarkisian was intrigued with Vehikite. After he watched the Hawaii/Polynesia vs. Mainland Bowl live on Fox Sports West, the Trojans offered the Hurricanes senior a scholarship.

Vehikite figures to play at fullback in USC's West Coast offense.

Vehikite's teammate, Cyril Ontai, saw more action at safety/linebacker than he did as a running back. However, Navy likes Ontai (5-11, 205) on offense in its spread option attack.

Some of the state's other top running backs are en route to junior colleges this summer. Troy Matautia (Waipahu) is eyeing Snow JC (Utah) and Farrington's Apelu So'oalo will go to Arizona Western JC. Rico Newman (Leilehua), Danny Kekoanui (Waianae) and Austin Wakinekona (Saint Louis) may also end up at JCs.

More potential gems at the next level include Will Starks-Togiai (McKinley), St. John Lessary III (Kahuku), Alapeti Magalei (Kahuku) and Lulumafue'e Manaea (Pearl City).



Billy Ray Stutzmann (Saint Louis) was an early commit to Hawaii. Robby Toma (Punahou) committed to UCLA in late October. The two Star-Bulletin All-State first-teamers aren't the only pass-catchers ready to make noise at the college level.

Kimo Makaula (Punahou) switched his commitment from Hawaii, where he would probably have ended up at defensive end, to Washington. Makaula (6-3, 225) was a versatile talent at tight end, wideout and quarterback. His athleticism and ability to make catches in traffic were somewhat overshadowed on a deep Punahou squad.

Campbell's Daniel Masifilo was scheduled to visit Wyoming this weekend.

Another All-State first-team pick, Edieson Dumlao (Leilehua), is leaning toward baseball as his college sport.

No recent news on Radford's Shawn Putman-Curry, who had interest from Idaho during the season.

Another Saint Louis playmaker, Lucas Gonsalves, has interest from several schools, mostly small colleges. Walking on at UH is an option, Crusaders coach John Hao said.



Cayman Shutter (Punahou) decommitted from New Mexico after UH offered a scholarship after the season. Shutter threw for 28 touchdowns with just seven picks and amassed 2,426 yards as the Buffanblu won their first state title.


Defensive tackles

Wade Keliikipi (Waianae) was an early commit to Hawaii. Bijon Mostoufi (Kaiser) will suit up for Weber State.

Semisi Tokolahi (Hilo) committed to Washington a month ago, but still planned visits to Colorado, Oregon State and Washington State.

Trevor Iosefa (Punahou) had interest from UH, Portland State, St. Francis, Washington and Weber State. Other standouts like Luke Spencer (Kapolei) and Miah Fa'atoafe (Aiea) may go the JC path.


Defensive ends

This is probably the richest of all positions in this year's senior class. Seven players have committed, including six to D-I universities.

Veni Manu (Mililani), Marcus Malepeai (Radford) and Chad Lopati (Kapolei) are en route to Hawaii. Mana Rosa (Baldwin) is heading to Oregon State, and his teammate, Jordan Puu Robinson, will go to Washington State. Hawaii Prep's Mika Nickel committed to Utah State last week.

Waimea's Siasau Matagiese committed to Portland State, but it doesn't end there. Adam Sagapolutele-White (Saint Louis) could commit to Weber State, and Campbell's Christian Kelii has interest from Baylor.



Manti Te'o's patience has been steady despite nationwide fanfare and speculation. The 6-2, 230-pound Punahou senior pared his list from five schools to three recently: Notre Dame, UCLA and USC.

Since the end of Punahou's season, he's been busy with all-star games in Hawaii and Florida, and trips to colleges, including one to USC this weekend. Te'o was a mainstay last year when Punahou's basketball team won a state crown, but he hasn't suited up yet this season.

A hand injury derailed Te'o during one basketball practice, and with the multitude of plane trips, he backed off from rejoining the team until after the USC trip.

Kalaheo's Shawn Reed committed to Navy last week. The 6-1, 212-pound defensive end/linebacker will likely play linebacker for the Midshipmen.

“;My friend, Bruce Andrews, is up there and my grandpa was in the Navy, so he did a little recruiting,”; Reed said. “;He thought it was a good choice.”;

Though linebacker was a deep, talented position in the state, many of the top players aren't academic qualifiers yet.



Jray Galeai is the one clear-cut commit so far. The Kahuku playmaker committed to BYU early in the season, following a family tradition.

'Iolani's Kela Marciel has interest from Weber State. Kalani Brackenridge (Kapolei) has offers from Idaho and Washington State, but his talent in baseball could have an impact on his decision.



Hawaii got a big boost last week when Aulola Tonga (Kahuku), a Star-Bulletin All-State first-team selection, gave the Warriors an oral commitment.

His teammate, Kamalani Alo, committed to Hawaii during the season.

Kaimuki's Trendt Marsom committed to Wyoming in December.

Another standout safety, Breland Almadova ('Iolani), had a penchant for stripping the ball away from running backs and receivers. Almadova (6-1, 180) will play baseball at UH, but is interested in also playing football.

One of the gems in the rough is Anthony Tuitele of Damien. The physical 6-foot, 190-pound senior also played quarterback for the Monarchs.


Oral commitments












































Division I POS.HSHtWtCollege
Kamalani AloSKahuku6-1192Hawaii
Jray GaleaiCBKahuku6-0180BYU
Dalton HilliardRB/WR/CBPunahou6-0190 UCLA
Joey IosefaCBFaiga'itua6-1190Hawaii
Wade KeliikipiDTWaianae6-3 280Hawaii
Jordan LoefflerOLHilo 6-5 265Hawaii
Chad LopatiDE/OLBKapolei6-2245Hawaii
Benson Ma'afalaOLMililani6-4305Hawaii
Kimo MakaulTE/WRPunahou6-3 225Washington
Marcus MalepeaiDERadford6-2 245Hawaii
Veni ManuDEMililani 6-4 230Hawaii
Trendt MarsomSKaimuki6-0195Wyoming
Mika NickelOL/DEHawaii Prep6-2245Utah State
Cyril OntaiRB/LBNavy5-10205Navy
Shawn ReedDE/LBKalaheo6-1212Navy
Jordan Puu RobinsonDEBaldwin6-4250Wash. State
Mana RosaDEBaldwin6-2 250Oregon State
Kapua SaiOLSaint Louis6-5 320Utah
Conrad ScheidtLBKamehameha6-2220Idaho
Cayman ShutterQBPunahou6-1 190Hawaii
Billy Ray StutzmannWRSaint Louis 6-1160Hawaii
Robby TomaWRPunahou5-10170UCLA
Aulola TongaSKahuku6-3205Hawaii
Chauncy Winchester-MakainaiOLKailua6-4326Hawaii
Simione VehikiteRB/LBKapolei6-1 243USC



Division I-AAPOS.HSHtWtCollege
Siasau MatageiseDLWaimea6-1247Portland State
Bijon MostoufiDTKaiser6-1265

Weber State



Junior collegePOS.HSHtWtCollege
Kamaloni Vainikolo (Maui)DEEl Camino6-3275Utah State