Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, February 4, 2002


Coaches staying close to
the fax machine

By Jason Kaneshiro

With 48 hours left before signing day, recruiting season is swiftly approaching it's denouement.

After the buildup of the recruiting trips and scholarship offers and the climax known as the verbal commitment, signing day provides the ceremonial conclusion to the drama.

Most of the state's top high school recruits and their parents or guardians will put pen to paper on Wednesday, the first day they can sign a letter of intent.

The fax machine will be the hot spot in football offices at universities across the country as coaches match up letters with commitments.

"It's quite a relief," Hawaii coach Dan Morrison said. "It's good to get those faxes in the morning."

Players cannot sign their letters before 7 a.m. local time and will actually sign three copies. One copy is kept by the player, the other two are sent to the university. The school must then forward a copy to their conference office within 21 days, or the letter is rendered invalid.

The letters are most often faxed to the respective universities before the hard copies are dropped into the mail.

But for those who don't sign on Wednesday, hope is not lost. While Feb. 6 is often looked upon as a deadline, the signing period actually ends on April 1 and the process could even extend into the summer.

If a player who signed a letter of intent doesn't qualify academically and opts for a junior college, his scholarship becomes available for the coaches to offer to another athlete.

"(Coaches) will talk to somebody who didn't ultimately get a scholarship and ask them if they're interested in coming," Morrison said. "That could happen in June or July, when school's done and they realize that this kid isn't going to make it and is going to a JC. Or you may have an extra scholarship to offer to a person that has been in the program for at least two years."

There are also those rare occasions when a player who made a verbal commitment suddenly drops off the radar and a letter never appears.

"That does happen, it's happened to us, it's happened to everybody," Morrison said. "Sometimes you develop relationships with kids who are pretty good and it's hard for them to tell you. Probably the best clue for us is when we keep calling and we can't find them."

But most are eager to enter the fold, and for coaches, letter-of-intent day signals the end of recruiting season and the beginning of the next phase of college football's annual cycle.

"It's nice to get them done and on file and then get ready to turn your attention to spring football," Morrison said.


The Star-Bulletin's top 10 college football prospects from Hawaii high schools are ranked by Jason Kaneshiro and Dave Reardon, after consultation with high school and college coaches. Other prospects are listed in alphabetical order. Wednesday is national letter-of-intent day, when high school players can first make their commitments binding. Asterisks indicate verbal commitments. Players listed as Ath are being recruited as all-around athletes.

Player School Pos. Ht. Wt. Probable colleges

1. Jonathan Mapu Kahuku DE 6-3 250 Tennessee*

2. Brandon Ala Kamehameha DE 6-3 210 Washington*

3. Mulivai Pula Kahuku RB 5-11 215 BYU, Hawaii

4. Enoka Lucas Kamehameha OL 6-3 285 Oregon*

5. Samson Satele Kailua OL 6-4 290 Hawaii*

6. Donny Mateaki Iolani DE 6-7 250 Washington*

7. Abu Ma'afala Kamehameha DL 6-2 270 Hawaii*

8. Inoke Funaki Kahuku QB 6-0 180 Hawaii*

9. Kaipo Patoc Mililani DE/LB 6-2 230 Hawaii*

10. Kalavi Blanchard Kahuku OL 6-4 290 Hawaii*

Other prospects FROM HAWAII

Jason Ching Punahou WR/DB 5-10 165 Brown, San Diego, Hawaii

Ross Dickerson St. Louis SB 5-11 175 Hawaii*

Tala Esera Kahuku DL 6-3 245 Hawaii*

Ferron Fonoimoana Kahuku WR 5-8 165 BYU*

Taualai Fonoti St. Louis LB 6-1 240 Stanford*

Marques Kaonohi Kailua OL 6-2 250 Hawaii*

Kahai LaCount Kailua OL 6-3 300 Hawaii*

Todd LaFountaine Punahou QB 6-0 185 Harvard*

Taleki Mailau Kailua Ath 5-10 190 Hawaii, Idaho St., West. Mont., Dixie

Levi Manutai Kailua DL 6-2 264 Idaho St., Dixie, West. Mont.

Felipo Mokofisi Kailua DL 6-2 220 Dixie

Mesepa Reed St. Louis OL 6-5 237 Hawaii*

Kekoa Reyes Waianae QB/DB 6-1 200 Dixie

John Siofele St. Louis DL 6-0 255 Hawaii*

Larry So'oalo Kailua TE 6-6 245 Utah*

Tuika Tufaga Kahuku DL 6-1 220 Utah

Dane Uperesa Punahou OL 6-5 315 Hawaii*

Other University of Hawaii commitments

Player School Pos. Ht. Wt. Note

Marco Chavez Palomar JC (Calif.) LB 6-3 245 Enrolled at UH

Jeremiah Cockheran Chaffey JC (Calif.) WR 6-2 180 Reportedly timed at 4.27 in 40

Matt Faga Fresno CC (Calif.) DT 6-2 320 Former Kaimuki player

Chad Kalilimoku Santa Ana JC (Calif.) LB 6-0 235 All-American JC from Roosevelt

A.J. Martinez Edison (Calif.) CB 6-0 185 Orange County back of the year

Kenny Patton St. Francis (Calif.) CB 6-0 175 Former Punahou player

Mel Purcell Leoni (Am. Samoa) LB 6-5 230 Slated to compete at OLB

Ryan Stickler Alta Loma (Calif.) QB 6-3 215 18 TDs, 5 INTs

Darrell Tautofi Dixie College (Utah) DL 6-4 270 Former Kaimuki player

John West Yuba JC (Calif.) Ath 5-10 180 All-American JC from Leilehua

Jason Whieldon Saddleback JC (Calif.) QB 6-1 190 Enrolled at UH

Notes: Pula is the last member of the top 10 who has yet to make a commitment. He is expected to announce a decision this afternoon. ... Pula's decision could impact Edison (Calif.) WR Denny Flanagan, who was in limbo last week after a mixup wth Hawaii and San Diego State left him without a scholarship. If neither school has a scholarship to offer, Flanagan could end up at Nevada or Fresno State. ... Kamehameha and Kahuku are among the schools scheduled to hold signing ceremonies for their players on Wednesday. Kamehameha's is set for 8 a.m. at Midkiff Learning Center. Kahuku's is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the school gym.

-Jason Kaneshiro, Star-Bulletin


>> The National Letter of Intent Program was founded in 1964 and is administered by the Collegiate Commissioners Association.

>> Fifty conferences representing 500 universities are members of the program. NCAA Division III, NAIA and junior colleges are not covered by the program. Neither are Ivy League schools and service academies.

>> A signed letter means the player pledges to attend that school for the coming academic year in return for financial aid from the university.

>> If a student-athlete decides to attend a university other than the one he signed with, he would have to sit out two years and sacrifice those years of eligibility. The penalty can be reduced to one year if the player and school sign a Qualified Release Agreement, freeing both from the commitments of the letter of intent.

>> A signed letter becomes void if a student-athlete does not attend a school covered by the NLI program for at least one academic year.

Source: Collegiate Commissioners Association

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