In an unprecedented move, Emfinger confirmed in an exclusive interview Sunday that both sophomores-to-be Kona Schwenke (Kahuku High) and V.J. Fehoko (Farrington High) were pre-selected and already invited to play in his prestigious 2010 annual All American Bowl Game Classic at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi – featuring the country's top high school seniors.
The All American Super Combine owner and organizer Max Emfinger referred to both Schwenke and Fehoko as "freaky sophomore phenoms," adding, "They're the first and only two sophomores I've selected for any of my 14 All-Combine teams around the country.
The 14 other All-Star recipients, covering all positions, included some of Hawaii's most coveted college recruits, who are all incoming seniors except for one junior.
"Neither one [Schwenke or Fehoko] was blocked in any of the one-on-one drills – and they went up against some good offensive lineman. They have unbelievable freaky quickness," Emfinger remarked.
He added: "Normally I don't notice sophomores at these combines because they're not as skilled and are usually intimidated by the bigger, older athletes, but not these two [Schwenke and Fehoko]. These young, good-looking athletes came out and beat everyone they went up against. That's just amazing. In coming weeks, I'll write about them on my web site – www.maxemfingerrecruiting.com – and might include them in my weekly "freaky five" athlete profiles that I send out every Friday to about 160 college coaches around the country."
Schwenke, who just turned 15, and Fehoko, who turns 15 in August, joined 121 other upperclassmen athletes from throughout Hawaii in head-to-head competition at Emfinger's first-ever All American Super Combine in the islands at Kamehameha School in Honolulu.
(Online link to the Max Emfinger 2007 Hawaii Super Combine All-Star Team: http://hi.digitalsports.com/conferences/7-oahu-hawaii/articles/2507- 1st-annual-all-american-bowl-game-super-combine )
Apart from sophomores Schwenke and Fehoko, only one junior (Shawn Reed from Kalaheo High) was named to Emfinger's Hawaii All-Combine team. The rest were seniors. Notably, Emfinger identified senior defensive lineman Solomon Koehler from Castle High as his "new No. 1 rated senior prospect on the entire planet. I've never seen a 300-pound player with a 39-inch vertical, who bench-pressed 185 pounds 33 times, ran a 4.5/20-yard shuttle and a 4.78 forty on a wet grass surface. He's simply unbelievable. No one could block him as well. He should have over 40 offers instead of about six. After I get the word out about him, he'll be hearing from a lot more coaches who have never seen or heard about him."
Kona Schwenke, whose father (McKay, former BYU-Hawaii rugby head coach) is Samoan and mother (Angie) is Maori (from New Zealand), stands 6 feet 4 inches, weighs 200 pounds, recorded a 34-inch vertical, ran a 1.49/10-yard shuttle, a 4.5/20-yard shuttle, bench pressed 185 pounds five times, jumped 104-inches in the standing broad jump and ran a 4.8 forty on wet grass, according to Emfinger.
"Kona did not run a super fast forty because no one has taught him how to do it properly, but his 1.49/10 yard shuttle shows he's got exceptional quickness. He's also impressive because he's already 6 foot 4 inches tall," Emfinger added.
"I did really good on the one-on-one and pass-rushing drills," Kona said.
(Emfinger's rave review of V.J. Fehoko will be featured tomorrow in the final part of this two-part series.)
Kona's father, McKay, confirmed that "Kona held his own against mostly seniors and he dominated everyone he went up against in the Oklahoma drills. The offensive linemen couldn't stop him. He was too quick for them."
"First and foremost, as a father I'm looking at getting him ready mentally, physically and emotionally, and the rest will take care of itself. Right now it's important that he has great sophomore, junior and senior years and stays healthy," McKay continued. "It's always a parent's dream to have their kids go to a top university for free on an athletic scholarship. If Kona commits to fulfilling his part, I think the offers will come. Right now he has his work cut out for him. He just turned 15 and he'll probably grow a couple more inches."
McKay noted, however, that academic excellence was of greater importance to him and his wife. "Getting Kona ready in the classroom is just as important, if not more, than on the field," he said, adding, "The main thing we emphasize with him is education. We don't know what's going to happen with football, but a good education will prepare him for the next 40 years of his life."
Kona currently has a 3.2 GPA.
Schwenke recalled a recent campus visit to BYU last month with son Kona, and their collective impressions.
"We were invited to BYU's Junior Day for Hawaii athletes last month [June] and we got a really good reception from Coach Anae and Coach Kaufusi.
"Kona was overwhelmed with Coach Mendenhall and the way he runs the BYU program. Plus, the facilities are first class as well. We listened to Coach Mendenhall as he explained the main focus of the program. He was upfront with all of us in explaining what is expected of all BYU football players, saying ‘This is not a program for everyone.'
"You can't help but be impressed with the values and environment if Kona goes to school there. That's if they even want him. Not only did Coach Mendenhall talk about his high academic standards for his players, but also his passion to take the BYU football program on to win another national championship. I think that's great.
Like many active Mormon families, missionary service will be a part of the family's future. McKay said, "We're LDS and Kona is definitely planning on serving a church mission. BYU is a school with good values, a good football program that is looking to become great again, has a great academic reputation, and also provides a unique spiritual element Kona probably won't find anywhere else.
"Kona told me he was really impressed with Coach Mendenhall's honesty. BYU is definitely one of the top schools I'd like Kona to consider. We'll see how high his [football] stock rises with other schools who might be interested in him."
McKay said that Kona participated in his first BYU football camp in June. "We had just come from the All-Poly Camp [Bountiful, Utah], which was the first camp Kona has ever participated in. They were both great learning and eye-opening experiences for him and us. He's been practicing all the techniques and moves he learned in Utah and it really helped him at yesterday's Super Combine."
Kona said he "really liked the way Coach Mendenhall talked about focusing on education and going on [church] missions."
Looking ahead somewhat, Kona noted: "I don't know what schools might be interested in me, but BYU would be in my top three. The other schools I like are USC, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon, Cal, Texas, Hawaii and Utah. Apart from the BYU coaches at their camp, the only other coach that showed interest in me was the d-Line coach from New Mexico State [Mike Fanoga, also associate head coach]. He was the one working mostly with our group at the All Poly camp."
In his first year of organized football, Kona started at defensive end last season on Kahuku High School's junior varsity squad and recorded seven sacks and blocked four kicks, earning special teams MVP honors.
"Coach Kimo, our varsity defensive coordinator, told me after the Red and White game this spring that he was pulling me up to play vars [varsity] this year. Since I came back from Utah, I've been working out every day in the weight room with my dad and also my Kahuku teammates during our summer conditioning workouts.
"My goals for my sophomore year are to get my grades up, be a starter on the Kahuku football team, become stronger and faster and earn my Eagle Scout [award].
"I remember Coach Kaufusi telling me at the BYU camp I've got the height and everything else to be a good college player, but I should ‘live in the weight room' and build up my strength. That's what I've been working on and I'll keep doing it for the next three years."
"I know I‘ve improved a lot since my first camp [last month]. Every camp or combine I go to I get better and better," Kona pointed out, adding, "I'm also working on improving my speed and quickness. When I go back to Utah next year for the All Poly and BYU camps, I'm going to focus more on my speed and pass-rushing technique with my first cousin's husband [Manaia Brown, former BYU and Nebraska defensive lineman]. Manaia said he'd work with me this summer, but I had to come back to Hawaii with my dad to help out at home."
McKay added: "Kona's a great athlete. He plays basketball and wrestled for Kahuku last year. I've been coaching rugby for more than 20 years and I see a lot of potential in him – not just because he's my son. He made the Aloha World 7s [seven-a-side] Rugby All-Tournament Team two years straight in the under-16 category in 2006 and 2007. The coach of the visiting All-Representative rugby team from New Zealand [that won the under-19 tournament title] told me Kona would have a great future in rugby back home [New Zealand].
"I'm helping Kona understand he has a lot of natural gifts and athletic ability that a lot of other kids wish they had, especially his height. But more importantly than that, he must play with the desire, determination and attitude of giving 110 percent effort all the time in practice and games. I know he wants to become the best player at his position wherever he plays.
In his fulltime capacity as vice president for Adult Friends for Youth, a reputable Honolulu non-profit organization that works exclusively with at-risk youth groups in high schools, McKay added: "I'm also working on improving Kona's mental approach to the game so he can live up to all the physical demands of the game."
Asked what the earliest inklings of his son's superior athleticism were, Schwenke said, "The first time I knew Kona might be a great athlete with a lot of potential was when he won the Laie Elementary School Turkey Trot run [fastest runner in the school by class] four years in a row from kindergarten to fourth grade. When the other parents saw Kona line up, they'd say, ‘Oh no, it looks like Kona is gonna get the turkey again this year,'" he recounted with a chuckle. "We had some great Thanksgiving dinners back then…"
EDITOR'S NOTE: Coming Soon: Part Two: V.J. Fehoko Excels at Max Emfinger All-American Super Combine in Hawaii