Mika Tafua is one of the best football players in Hawaii right now. Breiden Fehoko, Fred Ulu-Perry, Semisi Uluave, and Dylan Kane have been receiving a lot more attention this off season, but Tafua has been reeled the most offers. The Kamhameha defensive end decided to stay away from the camp circuit and focus on getting healthy and preparing for a run at the state championship.
"I really thought about going to a Nike camp with the goal of getting hyped up and potentially going to The Opening," Tafua explained. "I thought about it long and hard and decided that I just wanted to stay focused on the real goal of having a big senior year. I needed to get better as a football player this spring and summer. I think I did that. I had a surgery this off season and I needed to make sure I recovered 100%. My meniscus took a little longer to heal up than I expected. I feel like I am there now and I am currently 6-3 230 pounds and have never felt better."
Despite laying low, the stout defensive end drew a lot of attention to Kamehameha HS and went from one offer to nearly a dozen.
"I committed to BYU a few years ago, when they were the only school really looking at me," Tafua claimed. "I have a bunch of options now, so I am rethinking my decision. I would say I am a soft verbal to the Cougars right now. I still really like them, I just need to check out my options and make sure BYU is what's best for me. Maybe it is, but maybe it isn't."
"I have picked up offers from Colorado, Vanderbilt, Washington State, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Kansas, and Utah. I was really fired up when Oregon, Washington, and Vanderbilt offered me. Oregon and Washington are great Pac-12 programs that I have watched growing up. Vanderbilt is big for me, because it is the SEC and a great education. I was blown away that an SEC school would offer me."
Academics are one of Tafua's major priorities. He drives over an hour each way to get to Kamehameha, despite living down the street from traditional football powerhouse Kahuku High School. Kamehameha is a private school that offers him the better education.
"Academics are a big deal for me, but they are not the only factor for me," Tafua explained. "Football, family, church, and academics are all things that I value a lot. I want to find a program that can offer me all of those things."
Tafua had a good junior year, despite playing with a torn meniscus for the entire season. He has great length, with a motor that makes him hard to stop. He continues to add muscle to his frame and could end up becoming an elite defensive end. He has the athleticism to drop into pass coverage, but playing against the run and rushing the passer is his strong suit.
"I never like to draw attention to myself," Tafua stated. "I was raised to let my work do the talking for me. I know there are a lot of great players out here, but truly I think I can not only play with anyone on the island, I think I could be the best. I don't ever really pay attention to stats. That isn't a big thing for me. I just want to play my hardest and do whatever I can to contribute to wins."
BYU has had Tafua committed to them since he was entering his sophomore year, but landing the 6-3 d end may be a difficult task.
"I plan on talking all of my official visits," Tafua said. "I committed to BYU when I was young and I think some things have changed now. My father told me to take advantage of the opportunities I have been blessed with. With all these offers and schools that really want me, I think it would be foolish not to explore my options. We'll see what happens. I won't drag the process out. If I find a school that feels right for me, I will totally stop and commit."
While Tafua has been under the radar since committing to BYU, that could all be changing. The recruiting process for the talented defensive end will be one of the most heated battles in Hawaii this fall.