Help from Afar

Like the old English explorer Captain James Cook, BYU coaches have been doing some exploring of their own on the islands of Hawaii. From Oahu to Maui, BYU coaches searched for promising recruits. In the last few weeks, those efforts bore fruit in the form of two verbal commitments.

BYU secured a verbal commit from Kamehameha-Hawaii High School's Ian Dulan, and another from an O-line prospect at sister school Kamehameha-Maui High School. Dulan, a D-line prospect, will line up opposite Walter Kahaialii in practice at BYU next season.

"Yeah, I committed to BYU," Kahaialii said. "I want to serve my mission the second year of college. I know BYU is one of the only colleges that I could do that. Plus I've always wanted to go there because they're one of my favorite schools. I'm a pretty big BYU fan but I haven't kept up with them this year because I've been really busy, but I wanted to."

Kahaialii, who mother is both Samoan and Hawaiian, took her maiden name as his own. His father Laita is from the island of Tonga.

"I feel really good about it," said Walter's father Laita. "We're an LDS family."

Both Walter's father and mother are excited about his choice to commit to BYU.

"They're really excited about it," Kahaialii said. "They just told me to go just with whatever, and I told them I wanted to go to BYU and they said that was really good."

Only 17 years old, Kahaialii has plans to serve a full-time LDS mission after his first year at BYU.

"I turn 18 on March," Kahaialii said. "I'm only 17 now. My plan is to go one year to school then go on a mission instead of going to college and then come back and play and pick up where I left off."

In regards to passing the ACT, Kahaialii said he was pretty much good to go.

"I'm coming on a trip to BYU on January 5th," Kahaialii said. "I'm kind of nervous but I'm excited. It's just going away to college and all that. I scored a 23 on my ACT so I did well. I have a 3.7 GPA."

Although Kahaialii will play on the offensive side of the ball at BYU, Cougar defensive line Coach Steve Kaufusi was the one the recruited Kahaialii to BYU. Coach Kaufusi is also the coach to whom Ian Dulan committed.

"Coach Kaufusi is the one who came down," Kahaialii said. "He came down to my school last year and checked me out and he came back this year. He's a real cool guy. When I met him, he was really mellow and he liked my size."

Although Kahaialii went somewhat under the radar in regards to recruiting, Weber State Head Coach Ron McBride saw Kahaialii in action at a camp and offered him on the spot. It appears Oregon, SDSU and UNLV are now making a move on the Maui linemen.

"Weber State gave me an offer back in summer because I went to one of their football camps," Kahaialii said. "Coach McBride offered me a scholarship. Then Coach Kaufusi came around and I took his offer. I got some stuff from UNLV and the University of Oregon. San Diego State's been calling me."

Kamehameha High School Maui Campus Head Coach Leo Delatori feels BYU is getting not only a great athlete, but a person of great character who was the team's leader both on and off the field.

"He's going to be the first one in his family to go forward being able to take the next step towards his education," said Head Coach Leo Delatori. "He's a leader at school always meeting with the student body and things like that. To me he's very trustworthy and of good character. He's the kind of player coaches would want on their team.

"He's gotten other teammates to do the work and to get better themselves. In regards to being the leader on the team, he was that person. There's no doubt that he was the leader out there. He's been a friend to everyone at school. He's very good natured and he comes from a humble background with his family."

As a football player, Kahaialii was not a vocal leader. Rather he let his actions speak for themselves on the field.

"I don't really like to talk a lot but my teammates tend to have their little games on the field," Kahaialii said. "I mostly just hit and then help guys out afterwards."

Having only played organized football for three years, Head Coach Delatori feels Kahaialii is already a very well balanced and hard working offensive linemen both in the run and passing games.

"He just played offensive line," said Coach Delatori. "He did a terrific job for us. I consider him a very balanced offensive lineman in regards to both run and pass blocking. He has great feet for a big boy. He's 6'4" and about 305-pounds. You know after we ended our season he was in the weight room the next day trying to get bigger and stronger in order to get himself ready to go to the next level.

"He's only had three years of organized football so he's come a long ways. Just his work ethic and trying to learn the game is what set him apart from the other kids. The off season work he did and for being a big boy he was committed to doing all the agility workouts and it really paid off for him."

So how did the work ethic pay off for Kahaialii in the weight room? "The last time I checked during the summer, and before the season, I believe his bench press was 385, and then his squat was over 400-pounds," said Delatori. "He works hard and he takes full advantage of the opportunities in front of him to try and make himself better all the time."

However, by the time fall camp started, Kahaialii was bench pressing more than 385-pounds.

"My bench was 405 going into football camp," Kahaialii said. "As far as squat and power clean, I'm not to sure right now."

In regards to stats, the Kamehameha coaching staff did not keep track for the offensive linemen. However, Kahaialii did make first team All-MIL for Maui. The same division and award that former Baldwin High School and current USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava received.

"We really didn't take any stats on the O-line," Kahaialii said. "Most of the stats went to the receivers and running backs and stuff like that, but I made first team All-MIL. I made first team All-Star for MIL. MIL is the division we play in."

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