"I would be astonished if this guy doesn't do great things for the Orange and Black," Collias said.
"Mana Rosa is the best defensive player the Maui Interscholastic League has seen since USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava (second team All-Pac-10 in 2008) played for the same Baldwin High School team in 2004," Collias said.
If you're looking for Rosa comparisons, Collias picked an All-American and the 2008 Morris Trophy winner, one who dominated the Beaver offensive line in the '08 Civil War with a game high three sacks and a forced fumble.
"(Oregon's Nick) Reed is the guy I might project Rosa to being closest to before he is done," Collias said. "Not huge size, but an unstoppable motor and desire."
Most teams this past season game planned with Rosa specifically in mind, but it didn't seem to matter. And it was hard to send an extra man Rosa's way all of the time when Baldwin had Jordan Pu'u-Robinson, a Washington State commit, on the other side of the line.
''Most teams tried to run away from Mana, but he had Jordan on the other side, so it was kind of hard to double-team Mana all the time,'' Baldwin coach A.J. Roloos told Collias. ''He is just an unbelievable player. Teams would run away from him and he would still run down ball carriers from the back.''
At 6-foot-3 and a solid 250 pounds with 4.8 speed, Rosa has a number of strong attributes. He was also athletic enough to play some tight end for the Bears.
"Rosa's strengths are his quickness off the ball, pretty good speed, and great agility and athleticism for a big guy," Collias said. "Don't double team him, (that's) at your own risk."
He also passes the Mike Riley character test, something ever important and integral to Riley's success at Oregon State.
"He has good grades, a solid SAT score and a great attitude," Collias said. "He seemingly always had a smile on his face when he talked to me, which was often - just an all-around great kid.
"He always gave thoughtful answers and is very respectful, not something I get here a whole lot.
For his dominance on defense he was named the MIL's 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, just falling shy of being voted a unanimous choice, while earning first team all-state honors.
''It feels good, but there's a lot of guys out there who are good,'' Rosa told Collias after being voted the Defensive Player of the Year. ''I am just thankful that I got the award.''
Rosa recently played in the Hawaii/Polynesian-Mainland Bowl in December, smacking helmets with some of the top recruits in the nation. He held his own, finishing with three tackles -- all for loss including one sack -- while forcing two fumbles. His performance was despite missing the week of practices due to living on Maui and the game being played on Oahu.
''He is going to help (Oregon State) out a lot,'' Roloos said of Rosa. ''I watched him play in that Mainland (All-Star) game and he looked pretty good against other future college guys."
The naturally strong Rosa, who finished No. 22 on Scout.com's Northwest 100 and No. 77 on the West 150, has plenty of room to grow -- his high school head coach expects him to bulk up once he hits the weights at OSU.
"He will get much bigger, he will get stronger, especially if they leave him at defensive end," Roloos said. "They don't want big guys, they want mean guys who can get off the ball -- and that is Mana...He will do well at OSU and I am excited for him.''
Collias agrees, but he cautions it's very rare to see a defensive end come in early and make an impact. For Rosa, says Collias, maybe a few years down the road.
At the same time, Collias says Rosa is mentally ready for the Conference of Champions now and very close physically. If he doesn't redshirt, maybe a special teams player in 2009 and then, says Collias, look out.
- The Beavers seemingly always have a relentless
defensive end blasting off the edge or developing in the wings. From Victor Butler and Slade Norris the past two seasons, to first team all-conference pick
Dorian Smith, to Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Bill Swancutt. And let's
not forget about "The Presidents" -- DeLawrence Grant and LaDairius
- With Butler and Norris moving on
and just six upperclassmen on scholarship the defensive end two deeps look to be
up for grabs to a large extent from the most veteran senior to the newest
- Collias On Rosa's recruitment - "Bottom line, he joins a long list of
Islanders for the Beavs and when coach Cavanaugh came calling he said in his own
understated way, 'Ok, sounds good,' when the scholarship offer was made. That
shows how down to earth and humble this kid is.".
- Collias On Rosa signing with OSU - "OSU's gain is going to have
Hawaii fans lamenting the fact that UH didn't get on this kid earlier, much as
Maiava did back in 2004."
- On Rosa's quick recovery time - "He is a quick
learner, started every game he was healthy since his sophomore year, he is also
a quick healer as he proved after breaking his right forearm in three places at
the Just Win Camp here in June (about 20 college coaches there, including Robin Pflugrad from Oregon and Brian Cabral from Colorado). Rosa was back after
surgery (several pins inserted, and three permanent screws as well) in time for
the league season in September."
- Track and field star - "Rosa, who will
compete in track and field this spring, led a defense that gave up just 179.1
yards per game."
- Colorado came calling late - "BTW, Cabral, the CU
associate head coach and an Oahu high school grad, made a special trip to Maui
for a Baldwin practice and couldn't shake Rosa from his OSU commitment. Cabral
landed Jordon Dizon a few years back from a small school on Kauai and Dizon was
a Big 12 defensive player of the year before he was done."
- Rosa never lost a league game - "Rosa's high school career included two trips to the Division I (large schools) state semifinals and he left Baldwin never having lost a league game (currently a 37-0-1 streak, dating back to 2004)."
A big thanks to Robert Collias of Maui News for providing his insight on one of the
newest members of Beaver Nation.
Check out Collias' blog The Bald-Headed Truth for more sports news from the islands of Hawaii.