When I talked to Kahi Neves after he picked up his first offer from Utah back in June, he was convinced he was a quarterback and had no interest in playing defense. Just a few months later, Neves has changed his tune and is emerging as one of the top linebackers in a state that is loaded with talented LBs. Neves has never played on the defensive side of the ball, but you could never tell by watching him.
"I got to Brighton only a few weeks before the season started, and they were pretty comfortable with Robbie Hutchins as their quarterback," Neves explained. "It's hard to get mad about that, Robbie is a good friend of mine, and last year he took Brighton to the championship game. I realize my chance will come to be the QB and I am at peace with that. When Coach Bullet approached me with the opportunity to play defense, I jumped at it. I used to hate the idea, but I just want to compete and help my team win. If I am sitting out as the backup QB, there's not much competing going on. I have quickly realized I love playing defense."
"It's a blast playing out there with Osa and Sione," Neves exclaimed. "Osa is like a coach out there and both him and Sione play with contagious energy. Osa will take an hour or two every day after school to work on studying the playbook and practicing technique with me, it's awesome that he is willing to do that. On the field, we have a lot of fun and really feed off each other. I have the size, speed, and strength to play linebacker, but I've really loved the physical part of it. I didn't know I love to hit, but getting out there and laying out running backs and quarterbacks is a blast. I am learning a ton every week, but I feel like I am getting there."
After watching Neves several times this season, it's tough to say if he is better off permanently switching to defense. He has natural instincts to go along with the 6-4 1/2 240 pound frame. He has displayed that he can hawk down quarterbacks and chase running backs from side line to side line. With some proper coaching and practice, Neves could be a special outside linebacker or defensive end.
"Ideally, I'd like to play quarterback at the next level," Neves said. "But, just like here at Brighton, I want to win. If my coaches in college think I will do that better on defense than at QB, I won't argue, quit, or get upset. I am about my team first. I'll get my shot at quarterback, and colleges can decide what they like me at."
Neves is currently sitting with two offers at quarterback, both Utah and Hawaii offered the young gunslinger after seeing him throw at camps this summer. USC named him the MVP of their biggest underclassmen camp, while Auburn, UCLA, and Colorado were left impressed by his size, athleticism, and most of all his rocket of an arm.
"Since September 1st, my mailbox has been getting non-stop recruiting stuff," Neves claimed. "Oregon and Washington State are the two new schools showing a lot of love. I really like the Pac-12 a lot. Most schools in the conference are reaching out to me. I've built a strong relationship with Utah, they've offered me and the staff up there is awesome. With that being said, I wouldn't call them my leader. At this point, everyone is even to me. I love the Pac-12 and then schools like Auburn are in the mix as well."
All these schools are looking at Neves to play quarterback, but once his defensive tape circulates, that may change. In Neves' three games on defense, he has racked up 22 tackles, 8 TFLs, and a sack. He also forced a fumble and recovered one against nationally ranked Bingham. Kahi Neves is certainly one of the most intriguing 2016 prospects out West, with the ability to play quarterback or linebacker at a high level.