The Good & Bad News on Kahuku DB

If you like the play of BYU safety Aaron Francisco, you'll definitely like his successor for the Kahuku High (Hawaii) Red Raiders, Viliami (Vili) Nauahi, who according to Kahuku head coach Siuaki Livai "should be like Francisco and start as a true freshman." The question is where and when that will be. BYU may lead, but even if they get him may not seen him on the field until 2006. Read on for the complete story…

"As of right now, BYU is on top of my list," Vili Nauahi, the 6-2, 200 pound 1st team all-state Hawaii safety told last night. "The coaches, Barry Lamb and Steve Kaufusi, came to my house and gave me a lot of great input and made me feel comfortable. They made me feel like I'd be taken care of if I go there."

That's the good news.

The bad news is Nauahi may not get a scholarship until after his mission and would have to sit out or pay his own way since BYU is so short on scholarships. With Utah and Hawaii offering full rides to come in right away, that may be a problem for the Cougars (then again, with players like Bret Engemann and Mike Madsen not coming back, maybe it won't be).

"I turn 19 a year from February 3rd," Nauahi explained, "and BYU would hold me out and I'd get a scholarship after my mission. I'd return in January of 2006. I wouldn't mind going to BYU, but I want to play right away, too."

Nauahi was a relative late bloomer on the Islands. He was on the junior varsity team his sophomore, but was pulled up to varsity in 2000 for the first of the Red Raider state title wins over St. Louis. At that point he backed up Francisco, a starting safety in the Cougar secondary.

As a junior he recorded seven interceptions and was second team all-state on the team that finished 14-0 and rated No. 13 nationally by Student Sports. That team featured BYU signee Mulivai Pula and Jonathan Mapu among others, but their graduations left the team much weaker. In a highly-touted Sept. matchup, Kahuku was pounded by Long Beach (Calif.) Poly and eventually lost in the state quarterfinals.

Still, Nauahi's stock rose because of his nose for the ball and aggressive, big-hitting abilities. He finished the season with four interceptions and was selected as the Red East Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

In January, Nauahi will take three trips in a row to Hawaii (Jan. 10), BYU (Jan. 17) and Utah (Jan 24.). A wild-card is also in the works as Penn State is talking about a trip.

Here's what the 6-2, 200 pound safety says about each of the schools he's considering. All but Penn State have offered:

Hawaii: "It's home. I'd love to play in front of my family and fans."
BYU: "It'd be a new experience to get off the rock. It's also up there because of my religion."
Utah: "I went to the football camp (last summer) and really enjoyed it."
Penn State: "It's one of the top schools in the nation and I wouldn't mind playing in front of 100,000 people."

For Cougar fans, the prospect of getting a Francisco clone has to be exciting. According to Coach Livai, Nauahi, who also has a 3.0 GPA and will take the SAT in early Jan., could be even better at this stage.

"He's more filled out (than Francisco was as a senior at Kahuku)," the coach told the Honolulu Advertiser.

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