Defensive tackle Jonathan Lolohea (Copiah-Lincoln/Wesson, Miss.) has been at a Mississippi junior college for all of three weeks after transferring from Los Angeles Valley College (Calif.), and he’s already garnering major attention from college coaches. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound native of Maui, Hawaii, claims offers from Utah State, UNLV, Kansas, Oregon State, Colorado State, Iowa State, Arizona, and, most recently, Maryland.
“It’s been a big culture change coming out here [to Mississippi]. It’s been an adjustment, but it was necessary and I’m doing the best I can out here,” said Lolohea, who graduates next May and has three years to play two seasons. “I have a lot of good offers on the table now, a lot of good options, and I’m working to get even better.”
Lolohea began learning about the recruiting process when he left Maui High and attended Los Angeles Valley last offseason. Offers started to percolate in after a solid first season at the JUCO level, and he’s since researched college football and universities throughout the country.
The Maryland verbal, which Lolohea received March 17, immediately caught his eye.
“The Maryland offer actually meant a lot to me,” said Lolohea, who only began playing football during his senior year at Maui and wasn’t able to qualify academically coming out of high school. “I feel like it would be a good spot for me, because the two main things I care about are developing as a D-lineman and strength-and-conditioning. Maryland is strong in those two areas. So for me, personally, I’d say Maryland is in my top three right now.”
The Copiah-Lincoln lineman spoke to Maryland defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. The two had an extensive conversation, which left Lolohea impressed.
“Coach Brumbaugh, he came from Kentucky, and I feel like he produced a lot of good players while he was there,” Lolohea said. “So I feel like I could learn a lot from him. And he was telling me about the strength program, and Coach [Rick] Court sounds like he does a great job and is a real good one.”
Lolohea said there are other reasons he’s attracted to UMD besides Court and Brumbaugh.
“Maryland is about to have something like a $200-million new facility, which sounds very nice. and it’s a good deal too that the head of Under Armour [Kevin Plank] is really involved there and sponsoring them,” he said. “But, honestly, I’m not the type of guy who gets caught up in facilities and all that. I do think it’s good they have a good sports medicine program, though, which is what I want to major in.”
Now that the offer has been presented and Lolohea’s intrigued, he wants to visit College Park, Md. He’s unsure when he’ll be able to head East, saying he might try to venture out sometime in-between spring ball workouts or possibly in May.
“But I have to wait to take official visits,” he said. “There’s a rule for JUCOs you can’t take officials unless you’ve completed three semesters, and this is my first semester here. So I have to talk to my coaches to see if I can get out [for an unofficial] before then, or if I have to wait.”
Besides Maryland, the other two programs in Lolohea’s initial top-three are Oregon State and Iowa State. He said each of the Beavers, Cyclones and Terps are on an even plane and he’ll be delving into all three in the months ahead.
“Those are the three schools I want to start to build strong relationships with the coaches. Obviously things can change as more offers come in, but for now those are the schools I’m looking hard at,” Lolohea said. “With Oregon State, I have a close friend over there who just signed with them, and it’s a West Coast school. And Iowa State, I have a good relationship with the coaches and I like the college-town feel of it.”
Lolohea has seen many college campuses already, although most of his previous trips were to familiarize himself with schools rather than true recruiting stays. The only programs he’s seen after offers were presented were Utah and Utah State, both of which he checked out in early March.
“I would like to play in a power-five conference, so any power-five school I’ll look at. But I don’t really have any dream schools or anything,” Lolohea said. “I really don’t care about conference or anything; I don’t have to play in the Pac-12 or anything like that. I’m OK with playing with other [Polynesians] or not playing with other [Polynesians]. I really don’t care about things like that.
“But I will say I’d like to take at least two official visits before I decide on a school.”