Kahuku Linebacker All the Rave

There is a buzz among Kahuku High School fans and supporters on the North Shore, and it's not about some new pancake breakfast or new menu item at the local Hukilau Café that came out. No, this is about an up-and-coming linebacker whose name is often spoken about among local circles in La'ie and Kahuku.

That name is Ben Mamea. Mamea is a 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound inside linebacker and safety that could become the next big-time linebacker to come out of the state of Hawaii.

"I don't mind playing anywhere on the field, but I first started playing safety when I first started playing defense, so safety was my first spot," said Mamea, who will be a junior this upcoming season. "After that, one of our coaches kept his eye on me and began working with me. He moved me around on the defense to see where I would be the most effective.

"To be a successful linebacker you have to be able to move from side to side quickly. If you can't move side to side well, then you're not going to be a good linebacker. The linebacker is the core of the defense and so you have to be a good leader and have good instincts.

"To play safety, it's more about footwork. It's about reading what is coming at you and putting yourself in position to make a play. You have to be able to read the offense to help in defending against the pass or react quickly for run support."

Playing both linebacker and safety suit Mamea just fine.

"I like playing both positions because of the contact," said Mamea. "I like to hit and be physical. I consider myself a downfield player. Anywhere the ball goes, that's where I'll be, guaranteed. Anywhere the ball goes, that's where I'm going to be at."

Mamea is a tenacious ball hawk who plays with reckless abandon while in pursuit. The Red Raider is making quite the name for himself among the North Shore natives for his no-fear, all-out style of play.

"For me it's all mental," said Mamea. "How the brain works is, if you are scared then you play scared, but if you put that stuff away and leave that off the field then you can be a hard-hitting safety or linebacker or whatever you want to be."

To be a ball hawk, one has to possess a never-give-up mentality. Mamea claims a 4.6 forty, which is very good for his age. He says he is a downfield player, and his speed is one reason why he is an effective safety and linebacker within Kahuku's defense.

"I'm always going full-speed no matter what to get to where I need to be as fast as I can," said Mamea. "To be a downfield player, you have to be very aggressive and fast. You have to be able to get by players so you can make the tackle or the hit."

Mamea started for Kahuku as a linebacker last year as a sophomore and is already considered one of the elite linebackers in both his class and the state of Hawaii.

"Everyone over here in Hawaii already knows that Ben Mamea is one of the top linebackers in the state," said Coach Te'o. "He moves well and although he doesn't have [Manti Te'o's] size, he does some things similar to what Manti did."

Being LDS, Mamea has an interest in BYU. Like many of his fellow teammates, this Red Raider will be heavily recruited by BYU and other schools.

"As of now I'm interested in BYU, Utah, Colorado, UCLA and Colorado State," said Mamea. "But when it comes to BYU, it's like another home for me. BYU is a great place to be and it fits with everything in who I am perfectly. I'm Mormon and everything falls into place. It's like another home for me and I know it will be a place that will push me to become better with who I am."

Mamea also has a few friends at BYU, as well as fellow teammates that have committed to the Cougar program.

"I'm very active in the Church and I'm really close to my friends, and most of them are over there. Jray Galea'i and Shiloah Te'o are over there and I'm close with them. Also, Hauoli [Jamora] is going over there and others guys at Kahuku are being recruited by BYU, so I have a lot of friends going over there that I grew up with. They tell me things about BYU and what it's like being there."

Although Mamea hasn't had the chance to sit down with BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, he does have a very high opinion of him.

"I do think he is a great coach who knows how to connect with his players," said Mamea about Mendenhall. "He also knows how to get his players to play for him and keep them working academically-wise in the classroom. He does what he does to try and make sure his players succeed in life and not just in football. That tells me he cares for his players more than just winning football games.

"You know, football isn't going to be your whole life. It won't always be there to take care of you, so you have to use football to do greater things. Life is about doing greater things and about taking care of your parents, and if you can work hard and use football to do those things then you've done good, so that's one reason why I play football. I also play football to represent the community as well as my parents. I play football not for myself but those that come out and support me, but mostly I play football to represent my family."

Mamea expressed an interest in serving an LDS mission, but that's an accomplishment he'll tackle at some future time.

"I know it's going to be hard leaving the people you love for two years," Mamea said. "It's going to be a big sacrifice, but that's something that I have to do for the Lord."

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