Los Angeles (Calif.) University High School athlete Eugene Ford committed to Hawaii in December - Hawaii was the first school to heavily recruit and offer Ford dating to last summer. Later he would receive an offer from San Jose State and interest from Fresno State, New Mexico and Stoney Brooke. The bond that Hawaii’s defensive backs coach Abe Elimimian developed with Ford over time was his biggest factor in deciding on UH.
“Coach Abe Elimimian, he really showed me commitment by keeping in contact with me, always asking how I’m doing besides just football,” Ford said. “That showed his true character as a friend outside of football. Commitment plays a big role to me and my family... He showed me a lot about who I’ll be working with for the next four or five years.
“Through the process, they’ve always been number one, though other schools have reached out to me. Hawaii really showed they have belief in me playing at their school.”
On the field, Ford was projected by some schools as a receiver, but recruited to UH as a defensive back.
“I play with a chip on my shoulder at safety,” Ford said. “I have ability to attack the ball at safety and I’m rangy, I can cover the whole field. I have good instincts on receiver routes and things like that. Me playing receiver, I can tell what routes they are going to run. My instincts and ball skills are real good.
“I actually talked with defensive coordinator, Kevin Lempa. They’ll be playing man coverage and he’s seen my aggressiveness and athletic ability to play that role, so he thinks I’ll be a great fit for that role early on.”
Ford has been committed to UH for nearly a month, but last weekend he made his official visit to UH to see the school he plans to attend for the first time.
“I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I experienced new things that I never had before,” Ford said. “Surfing, hiking up cliffs… it was really beautiful. We went around the island and visited Aloha Stadium where the Pro Bowl is going to be held. It was good to see the field and the feel of the stadium I kind of got jitters.”
Ford was also happy to see the academic opportunities that UH as to offer. He plans on majoring in business and hopes to stay in the sports world in some capacity.
“I went on the school tour and I talked with the academic advisors,” Ford said. “He opened my eyes about new opportunities and what my future can hold if God doesn’t bless me to the NFL. That really stood out to me, besides the fun of just living in paradise.”
Offensive lineman Dejon Allen, who is actually a family friend of Ford’s, was his host.
“(Allen) introduced me to the team,” Ford said. “I’ve grown a relationship with the coaches very well and the players on the visit. I clicked with the players very quickly. We all bonded well. I can’t wait to join them mid-June and get to work.”