Vols Like Hawaiian Lineman

Tennessee is returning to paradise in pursuit of Hawaii's leading export after sugar and pineapples — grade A linemen.

The last two years the Vols have received sterling play on the defensive line from Jesse Mahelona, who hails from Kailuna-Kona. Next year they will see the return of Jonathan Mapu who originally signed with UT in 2002 after earning Parade All-American honors Kahuku High School in the Hawaiian city of the same name. Mapu played in UT's D-line extensively as a true freshman and sophomore before undertaking a two-year Mormon mission.

Now Tennessee is attempting to add to it's Hawaiian connection by recruiting Micah Kia, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive lineman from Mililani High School. Kia, who runs a 5.4 time, is rated No. 22 at his position by Scout.com, and is regarded by many experts as the top senior football prospect from the Pacific rim.

Kia plans to take an official visit to Tennessee in addition to visits to Oklahoma, Oregon State, UCLA and USC. All except the Trojans have offered him a scholarship. He also has interest in his home state university but appears likely to head to the mainland for his college experience.

After suffering a tibia injury during fall practice, Kia just recently returned to action. Although he's still not 100 percent the interest in his services hasn't waned. He has over 20 offers including scholarships from Utah, UNLV, Colorado and Arizona.

"I'm not completely recovered but I am glad to be back out there," Kia told Scout.com's Brandon Huffman. "It's coming along slowly, but its good enough for me to be back.

"I've gotten a bunch of offers and they are all still there. I have a top five of UCLA, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oregon State and USC. I want to take a trip to each of those schools."

Kia won't take any of those visits until his high school season is concluded, and it could be January before a decision is forthcoming. He is fully qualified with his test score and a 3.8 GPA. He has a brother, Aaron who plays for Hawaii.

"We're undefeated right now and I have full confidence that we can win the state championship so that is where my focus is at," Kia said. "I probably won't decide (on a college) until January."

Kia impressed onlookers at the Scout.com Combine held in Honolulu last May with his size, dexterity and strength as a pass blocker. He's ranked the No. 2 offensive line prospect in the West region behind only Steve Schilling of Bellevue, Wa.

Knoxville is the furthest locale from the Islands among Kia's planned visits, but the success of his fellow Hawaiians on the Hill may make him feel a little closer to home.


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