Kahuku High School LB/DB Hirkley Latu talks about recruiting and where he stands with BYU

Kahuku High School’s defense is dominating the Hawaiian Islands prep scene with ferocity and intensity, the likes which haven’t been seen in a long time. Among that defensive prowess is BYU recruit Hirkley Latu who was a verbally committed to being a Cougar at one point. Despite his current status, BYU is still in the hunt for Latu.

Here are some stats for you. The Kahuku Red Raider defense has only allowing 4.2 yards rushing per game. This is not a typo folks. That’s an average of 4.2 yards average over six games and an average scoring of 3.7 points scored against in six games! That is an amazing accomplishment as a defense and one in which Red Raider outside linebacker Hirkley Latu is a part of.

“Yeah, I’ve been good and I’m just focusing on the season,” said Latu. “All the players returning from last year and everyone learning their roles on the defense and playing well. It’s been great.”

With a defense like that, Kahuku High School may give the University of Hawaii a run for their money. Latu holds current offers from Cal, Oregon State, Utah, Utah State, Washington State, Hawaii, and BYU.

“Coach Poppinga calls every week and keeps in good touch with me,” said Latu. “Coach Marky calls me and he keeps in touch with me too. It’s been good. Everyone has been messaging me and it’s been good.”

Latu has been keeping track of BYU’s amazing season so far.

“It’s been crazy and I’ve just been trying to watch everything,” said Latu. “BYU has been doing great and it’s crazy. BYU is still one of my top schools.”

Yes, BYU is still in contention for securing Latu’s services. Right now he has plans on taking four official visits and BYU is one of them.

“As of right now I’m planning on going to UNLV, Utah State, Oregon State, and BYU,” said Latu. “I’ll probably just wait it out and see if I take my fifth trip or not. Coach Poppinga tells me that they really want me. I can do whatever I want to do. He told me that if I want to go serve a mission I can do that, or if I want to come to BYU right out of high school. They gave me the option to do whatever I want to do.”

As of right now, Latu is planning on serving a two-year LDS mission once he’s graduated from high school. Then he’ll enroll in college where he plans on continuing his football career.

“Right now I think I’m just going to go serve a mission out of high school and that’s my plan,” said Latu. “That’s something I really want to do and then come back and play. I’ve already started working on my papers to go serve my mission.”

Just a few days ago, childhood friend, and Punahou High School running back, Wayne Taulapapa committed to the BYU Cougars program. When Taulapapa committed to BYU, he and Latu were texting with excitement over the commitment decision.

“Yeah, we were messaging back and forth and I’m really excited for him,” said Latu. “He’s really excited about it. He just lives up the hill from me and we’re really close. We’re going to go out to BYU at the same time and visit at the same time. We’ve been talking and we’re going to try and visit BYU at the same time, so we’ll probably just go after the season or something.”

The two childhood friends have talked about playing at the next level together.

“Yeah, I’m really close to Wayne and we grew up together,” Latu said. “We’re really close. He’s a legit running back and there’s no doubt about that. One thing we’ve been talking about ever since he got his BYU offer is playing together. He’s really excited and I’m excited for him as well.”

Now that Taulapapa has committed to BYU, all that’s left is for Latu to make his commitment and the discussion of playing together would become a future reality. However, that won’t happen until Latu takes a few official visits.

“People think that because now I’m decommitted that BYU is out of the picture,” Latu said. “That’s not even the case and BYU is one of my top schools. I’m just waiting until after all the visits and I’m going with my mom and dad. I’m just waiting until I get a chance to take some visits and then I’ll talk it over with my mom and dad. Then after that I’ll make my final decision.”

The whole issue with Latu and BYU might have just come down to a misunderstanding. Over this past summer, Latu wanted to let Coach Mendenhall know that he wanted to take some official visits. His intentions were more for fun, rather than a decommitment, and he wanted to be open and let the coaches know of his plans. According to Latu, Coach Mendenhall took it as though Hirkley wasn’t interested in keeping his commitment to BYU.

“I came out there this past summer with my parents and we went around the school,” said Latu. “We got to eat lunch with the coaches. It was good but I just told Coach Mendenhall that I just wanted to see other schools. From there he told me that I wasn’t committed anymore, so he took me off the committed list. Even though I didn’t want to decommit, I just told him that I was considering other schools. I didn’t say I want to decommit, but, yeah, that’s kind of what happened. I don’t know. It’s all good though, and I see where he stands and why he thinks that way.

“I just wanted to check things out because I’m only going to experience this one time so I thought I would take advantage of it. Coach Mendenhall thought that I wasn’t committed because of that and doesn’t see it that way, so I just took it as, ‘Okay, I’m decommitted now and I’m just open to everyone now and everyone’s equal.”

In the end, BYU more than likely could be the school that Hirkley Latu ends up playing for. His older brother is coming home from serving his two-year LDS mission from South Africa and is going to try and enroll at BYU to walk-on the football program. That along with everything else could mean that Latu ends up at BYU in the end.

“That’s my dream right there,” said Hirkley’s father, Peni Latu. “I want my boys to play together at BYU. We’re hoping he gets in after his mission.”

“Yeah, I’m just going to check out a few schools then make my final decision,” said Latu. “Like I said I’ll only have one chance with this experience and BYU is my top school. I’ll visit some schools and check out the campuses and then talk it over with my parents. It’s all good though.”


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