Hawaii Blog - Day Two

WAIKIKI - Having just come back from the North Shore, the verdict is in; there's definitely something in the water. At Kahuku High School, I found even more Division-1 talent, not surprising since they pump out prospects at a rate most mainland schools would be envious of.

All you have to do is follow the trail of schools that make their way from the Honolulu airport to the windward side of Oahu and along the Kamehameha Highway to know where the players are hiding. According to Kahuku Head Coach Reggie Torres, UCLA showed up to his door Wednesday, and Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Hawaii, Arizona, Arizona State, Weber State and UNLV found their way to see the Red Raiders this week alone.

Two things became abundantly clear when you show up for a Kahuku spring practice; the team is there to work, and there's definitely a weeding-out process that goes on with the younger players. Since football is religion at Kahuku, the 2011 state champions, there's nothing the Red Raiders take more seriously. That being said, it's easy to figure out the sophomores that are going to make it, as opposed to the ones that come full of heart and desire but just won't be able to stand up to the pounding and abuse they're sure to take over the next three years. This is no different than any other school, but for some reason at Kahuku it seems more pronounced because of the physical specimens they have at their disposal.

One of the first sophomores that immediately passed the 'Look Test' was Lamone Williams, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound big athlete who has already been offered by Hawaii, according to Torres. Williams, who has thick legs and quick feet, sure looks like he could grow into a monster defensive lineman in time. Juniors John Wa'a and Rashaan Falemalu - who have both verbally committed to stay home and play for the University of Hawaii under first-year head coach Norm Chow - are great looking athletes who also exude a ton of upside.

Wa'a, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound offensive lineman, is one capable of playing at any spot along the offensive line; he plays right tackle currently for the Red Raiders. Even though Wa'a plays on the edge, he is a terrific run blocker, driving linemen downfield. And Falemalu, the younger brother of current Hawaii defensive end Paipai, looks physically a lot like his brother when Paipai roamed the fields at Kahuku. Paipai, who is now a stout 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds and started 12 games for the Warriors in 2011 was 6-foot-3, 215 pounds when he matriculated, and Rashaan is now 6-foot-2 and 210. He told Scout.com he would characterize his game as 'aggressive' and 'assignment football' - two good traits to have in an outside linebacker.

Two more 2013 prospects - defensive backs Johnny Tapusoa and Kawahena Johnson - are getting looked at by Weber State and New Mexico State, respectively according to Torres, and running back Aofaga Wily is a two-way star for the Red Raiders who boasts offers from Arizona and Hawaii. The 6-foot, 195-pound Wily, who is LDS, plans on serving his mission and he's been told by BYU that an offer would be forthcoming if they get a chance to see him at their summer camp.

Bulldogs still looking up - Much closer to Honolulu, the Kaimuki Bulldogs won their first eight games in 2011 before losing two tough matchups, the last one a 36-22 battle to Waipahu, to advance in the OIA playoffs. Typically the Bulldogs do it with great high school players that find their way onto Division-1 rosters; their last BCS prospect was Chester Su'a, who nows plays for Washington State. And according to head coach Clint Onigama, Kaimuki has a few players that schools like Hawaii and Idaho are looking at, so the trend continues.

At the top of the list is running back Chansen Exzabe (5-10, 160), who had a 6-yard per carry average as a junior, and also Zachary Bastatas (5-11, 160), who threw and caught passes for the Bulldogs last year. Sione Moala (6-1, 315), younger brother of former Kaimuki star Mike Moala, is a two-way standout, and Onigama hopes Saint Louis WR/DB transfer Tai Boyd (6-0, 160) is a player that can become a key piece to another playoff run.


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