Kamehameha's Mika Kane, right, has said he's 90 percent sure he'll sign with California this morning.

Decision day arrives
for local players

However, Saint Louis’ Tyson Alualu
appears to need more time before
choosing a college

Letter of intent day has finally arrived, but that doesn't mean it's all about fancy pens and dotted lines.

In fact, for at least one prominent football player, this is nothing less than a day of stress, drama and, hopefully, closure. When Tyson Alualu puts his name to paper this morning, there will be smiles for one program, from coaches to fans. For the other, turn the smiles upside down.

Or will they?

As of last night, word at Saint Louis was that a scheduled news conference for this morning was postponed because Alualu hadn't come to a decision yet. He and other prospective college players have a month from today to make their decisions, but it is unlikely any university will hold a scholarship that long.

Saint Louis running back Kevin Sullivan has already accepted an offer from Air Force. "They asked him if he would mind waiting until Tyson was ready before they have a press conference," said Sullivan's mother, Doris. "Jeremy Shea was asked to wait, too. They don't mind waiting at all."

And so the drama continues.

Cal and Hawaii have been locked in a battle for the 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive tackle for weeks. Alualu, even during the HUB Goodwill Classic workouts, wasn't anywhere close to picking his favorites. He did say, though, that his trip to Cal, along with Kamehameha lineman Mika Kane, went well.

Alualu went on to earn East squad Defensive Player of the Game honors at the HUB event. He visited Hawaii recently, and at this point, there's not a shadow of a hint about where he wants to be this fall.

Alualu's coach, Delbert Tengan, draws a blank about this, as well. "He's kept it under wraps real good. I've asked him, and he's undecided about it. Even with his closest friends, they don't know what he's going to decide," Tengan said.

It's an intriguing situation. If he stays home, Hawaii can certainly put his talent to use immediately. Hawaii is in need of defensive help, especially in the trenches.

If he goes away, Alualu fulfills a personal dream, but won't have his family and friends nearby to share the joy.

At the UH football offices, the coaches anticipate signed letters of intent from as near as McKinley High School (lineman Raphael Ieru) and as far as Aliquippa, Pa. (slotback Michael Washington). Alualu is the Warriors' biggest question mark, since Oregon's high school player of the year Kevin Maher chose Oregon State over Hawaii and Washington State yesterday.

If Alualu joins Maher in choosing other than Manoa, it could open up scholarships for others waiting in the wings, like quarterback Jared Prince or kicker Danny Kelly.

Kane could provide some drama in Berkeley. The 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle has committed to Cal, but at one point last month, he was still "only" 90 percent sure about committing to the Golden Bears when his father, Hansel, insisted that he make a decision and end the triangle involving Mika, Cal and Oregon State.

Some murmurings indicate that Kane may not necessarily sign with Cal this morning. If he changes his mind, it wouldn't be a first. Last year, Kahuku's Jeremy Perry changed his decision on LOI day and spurned UH.

Kane isn't the only athlete who is weighing options at this late time. One source indicated that Kahuku's hard-hitting defensive back, Al Afalava, will pull away from BYU and commit to Oregon State. The 5-11, 190-pound senior enjoyed his trip to Corvallis, but when he returned, assured family that he had not made a commitment to the Beavers.

That could change this morning. It's certainly the right of any student-athlete to choose his future college freely. That's what makes today's letter of intent day less of a formality, especially when teenage athletes are involved.

The first press conference of the day is at 7 a.m. in Kapolei, where the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance will host several players from different schools. Among the signees that will be there: Kane, Shawn Lauvao of Farrington, Kaluka Maiava of Baldwin, Tyler Williams of Kamehameha, Raphael Ieru of McKinley, Ikaika Aken-Moleta of Kapolei, Rocky Savaiigaea, R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane and Malo Taumua of Aiea.

The event is not open to the public.

Kamehameha's press conference follows at 7:35 a.m. Waika Spencer, who committed to San Diego State, and softball player Liane Horiuchi will be there. Horiuchi committed to play for Tennessee.

Before lunch, Kahuku will have its press conference. As of today, the Red Raiders have eight Division I commits: B.J. Adolpho, Max Fairclough, La'auli Fonoti, Spencer Hafoka, Maveu Heimuli, David Niumatalolo, Micah Strickland and Afalava. Seven of the eight are qualifiers.

Statewide, 27 players have made oral commitments. All but five are qualifiers. Of those five, four are very close to qualifying.

E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com