Kahuku's Tu Tui and Viliami Nauahi signed with UH yesterday as their parents -- Lemau Tui and Eleni and Gabriel Nauahi -- watched.

Hawaii’s best commit

The Warriors' haul includes
sweep of 4 Kahuku players

Saint Louis teammates will become Pac-10 rivals

By Dave Reardon and Jason Kaneshiro,

The previously unthinkable happened yesterday at Kahuku High School -- a Hawaii sweep in football recruiting.

All four Red Raiders signing letters of intent for Division I football delivered them to the same school: UH. The Warriors secured defensive backs Viliami Nauahi, Tu Tui and George Perry and defensive lineman Quin Ah You in a ceremony at the North Shore campus.

Going back to the day in 1969 when Ah You's beaming father, Junior Ah You, left for Arizona State, Kahuku's reputation has been for its most talented players to go to mainland colleges. In more recent years, the North Shore hotbed has sent standouts like Aaron Francisco and Chris Kemo'eatu to Brigham Young and Utah.

But the path of choice for Red Raiders now is toward Manoa instead of across the Pacific Ocean.

"The last three years or so, UH has been here a lot," Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai said, applauding the recruiting efforts of Warriors coaches. "Rich Miano has done a great job, Dan Morrison does a super job. The program has been going good, and we have some kids from Kahuku there already, so that helps, too."

UH received letters of intent yesterday from athletes spread from American Samoa to Louisiana, including 10 Hawaii high school players.

Overall, there were no last-minute surprises and UH expected all letters to be in by this morning. But Warriors fans were disappointed with the commitment of American Samoa linebacker Amani Purcell to Penn State.

UH got all four Kahuku players despite a last-ditch effort by Brigham Young to turn Nauahi back to Provo. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety said yesterday he did commit to BYU while on his visit there last month, before changing his mind after a subsequent visit to Manoa.

"(Tuesday) morning three coaches (from BYU) talked to me -- Steve Kaufusi, the defensive coordinator (Bronco Mendenhall), and (head) Coach (Gary) Crowton. It was about a half-an-hour talk," Nauahi said yesterday after signing with UH. "They said they hoped I would reconsider."

And he did.

"Last night I could hardly sleep," Nauahi said. "I was saying in my mind, 'How would it be if I go to BYU?' But the feeling of going to UH was stronger."

He said two keys were his teammates being at UH (as well as the presence of former Kahuku defensive backs Hyrum Peters and Leonard Peters), and the Hawaii staff's sensitivity to his religious beliefs. Nauahi, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, will go on a two-year mission after his first year at Manoa.

"Coach Jones allowing me to take my mission when I wanted to, that really helped me consider UH," Nauahi said. "I did verbally commit (to BYU). But then a feeling came over me about staying home and playing at UH. Why leave home?"

Saint Louis wide receiver Jason Rivers chose Hawaii over Washington State, as he and Crusaders linebacker Timo Paepule and offensive lineman Jeremy Inferrera also officially became Warriors yesterday.

"It's been a long journey and we're glad to see him get there," said Rivers' stepfather, Keith Lyerson. "It was always a goal to get him through here and get a scholarship and pay for his education. Double plus we'll get to see him play. It's all good for us."

Kaimuki linebacker Daniel Tautofi, like the other signees, was relieved to get the process over with.

"It feels great. The monkey's off my back; now I just have to perform," Tautofi said. "There were no doubts, I knew I wanted to be here. Yesterday it was just a dream and now it's happening."

Meanwhile, at Long Beach Poly in California, offensive lineman Hercules Satele made his commitment to UH official. He said letter of intent day left him with a mixed bag of emotions.

"I was kind of nervous. It's the first time and the only time in my life I'll be doing this," he said. "I'm going to miss my teammates, and that hit home because we had a big signing day, 12 guys, and there's still more to come. There were a lot of people there, press, parents.

"Now I just want to graduate, work hard on academics and for the football season next year," Satele added.

Others who sent their signed letters of intent to UH yesterday are: Ray Bass (defensive back, Centennial, Corona, Calif.), Lenny Boatner (slotback, Winston, Philadelphia, Miss.), Chris Cole (linebacker, Mission Viejo, Calif.), DeJuan Gatling (offensive lineman, Silverado, Victorville, Calif.), Xavier Ho'olulu (offensive lineman, Kailua), Michael Lafaele (offensive lineman, Farrington), Jack Rolovich (quarterback, San Marin, Novato, Calif.), Larry Sauafea (Samoana, American Samoa), Tim Wright (punter, Southwest Mississippi CC).


Saint Louis teammates
will become Pac-10 rivals

By Jason Kaneshiro

Sitting behind a table at McCabe Gym yesterday morning, Wilson Afoa and Tolifili Liufau took the first step in their journeys across the Pacific.

As three of their Saint Louis teammates signed national letters of intent to continue their academic and football careers at Hawaii, cousins Afoa and Liufau chose to sign with mainland schools. Afoa, the state's defensive player of the year, signed with Washington, and Liufau signed with Pac-10 rival Washington State.

"I'm going to miss them," said Timo Paepule, one of the Crusaders to sign with UH. "Playing three years with those guys has been fun. ... I really wanted to play with them, but I think they'll do good up there."

Afoa and Liufau were bookends on a Saint Louis defensive front that helped the Crusaders capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and state championships last fall and were among this year's crop of Hawaii standouts to sign with NCAA Division I programs on the mainland.

Also signing yesterday were Kailua offensive lineman Pat So'oalo (Oregon), Kamehameha linemen R.J. Willing (Brigham Young) and Reyn Kaupiko (Navy), Aiea lineman Brandon Rodd (Arizona State), Kealakehe safety James Kamoku (Wisconsin) and Roosevelt defensive lineman Naymon Frank (Oregon State).

Kamehameha's Reyn Kaupiko signed his letter of intent for the U.S. Naval Academy yesterday with parents Brian and Gaye and siblings Hunter and Tehani in attendance.

Afoa said his decision extended beyond football. He researched Washington's engineering program before committing to the Huskies last month and felt going away to school will help him develop as a person.

"It's going to be hard adjusting to it," Afoa said. "I can't depend on my parents. I have to be independent.

"It's a challenge being independent, paying my own bills and cooking my own food. But it's going to help me in the long run, it's an education."

Rodd followed the same reasoning in making his decision to go to Arizona State. He said he met a couple of Hawaii transplants during his recruiting visit, which helped him envision himself as a Sun Devil.

"If I stayed home I probably wouldn't have the opportunity to experience the mainland in my life," Rodd said.

"I just have to be a man and grow up. You don't have mom to depend on, to wake you up in the morning."

Liufau still has a couple of academic hurdles to clear before he joins the defending Pac-10 champion Washington State squad. He's planning on taking the SAT again in hopes of qualifying to play next season.

"He's a bright kid. He just needs to be focused on his academics right now and I'm positive he can get the job done," Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said.

If all goes well, Afoa and Liufau could find themselves on opposite ends of the fierce intrastate rivalry between UW and Wazzu for the Apple Cup.

"It's going to be fun playing against him," Afoa said. "That's the exciting part about it."

Several of the mainland-bound players said they did encounter pressure from family and friends to stay home, but decided to follow their instincts to go away.

Saint Louis' Wilson Afoa talked to his mother, Sally, as he signed his letter of intent yesterday.

"They had a lot of pressure, but they did what's best for them," Paepule said. "They didn't listen to what other people told them. They listened to themselves and they're going off to good schools."

While signing a letter of intent normally binds a student-athlete to a school for four or five years, Kaupiko's decision impacted the next decade of his life.

He will have five years of schooling at U.S. Naval Academy, followed by five years of active service.

"It's a totally different lifestyle from what I have right now," Kaupiko said. "I'm kind of scared to go away and kind of excited to experience something new.

"I'm just happy I accomplished this. Hopefully now I can accomplish other things."

In addition to the Division I prospects, many Hawaii products are headed to smaller schools. Kailua is sending defensive standouts Malakai Mokofisi, Kekoa Sniffen and Vili Fonokalafi to Dixie State. Other Surfriders to sign yesterday included Ranson Kepa to Menlo; Cody Texeira-Vickery and Daniel Bukurau to Arizona Western; and Eddie Campbell, Sol Cuban, Willie Salakielu, Norjay Abejon and Al Kauahi to College of the Sequoias. Receiver Brad Ching plans to walk on at Oregon State.

Kahuku defensive lineman Hans Fonoimoana signed with Northern State (South Dakota). Kamehameha linebacker Micah Lau, Farrington linebacker Paulo Feagai and Campbell tight end Gino Venti signed with Pasadena City College.

Although football dominated signing-day news, it wasn't reserved for the guys. Mililani girls soccer player Jennifer Loo also took part in the festivities at the Hawaii Sports Network offices downtown.

Loo, an all-state defender last season for the state champion Trojans, signed with Idaho State.

Kahuku's Krisha Kai is set to join her sister, Natasha, at Hawaii after signing with the Rainbow Wahine yesterday.

"It feels good knowing I made a decision that will really affect my future," Loo said. "The coaches were really nice and I could just see myself fitting in there."

Sending seniors to mainland schools has become an annual ritual for Tengan during his tenure at Saint Louis. He said this year's class can expect to battle homesickness, but pointed to Crusader alums and NFL players Olin Kreutz and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala as examples of local products who excelled away from home.

"They tell our kids, whichever decision you make, whether you stay home or go away, stick with your decision," Tengan said. "I know Olin wanted to come home in the worst way, but he stuck with it and look where he is now."

UH Athletics

E-mail to Sports Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --