JC Defensive Tackle Jesse Mahelona

The JC defensive tackle originally from Hawaii, <b>Jesse Mahelona</b>, has a number of big-named schools after him, including UCLA. We spoke to him at the end of last week, right before he was set to take an official visit to an elite program in the midwest...

One of California's top junior college defensive linemen is Orange Coast (Calif.) College defensive tackle Jesse Mahelona, 6-2, 290.

Originally from Hawaii and a 2001 Hawaii signee, Mahelona greyshirted and then eventually left for the mainland. He ended up at College of the Canyons, but knew no one, and found his way to Orange Coast College, where there were some friends from home.

He played the 2002 season at OCC, and put together an impressive season from his tackle position. He finished fifth on the team last season with 62 tackles, 9 for loss, 6 sacks, one pass breakup and one forced fumble. He was selected a First Team all-Mission Conference Central Division and 1st-team all-State Region IV pick.

Heading into his sophomore season, he has plenty of interest from schools in the West, and one in the Midwest that he visited this last weekend.

Last Thursday, Mahelona said, "I'm leaving for Oklahoma (August 29th) and get to see them play North Texas."

The Sooners are his leader, but UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington also will be in contention. In addition to those five, who have all offered, Mahelona has an offer from Temple.

"I definitely want to visit Arizona State and Oregon, and then Washington before I make my decision. I have already been up to UCLA, and know the campus, and I got to watch them up at practice (at CS Fullerton)," said Mahelona.

Coach Larry Kerr is recruiting him, and Mahelona likes what he sees. "He is a real smart coach. He tells the truth about playing time, grades, where they see me in the defense," said Kerr. "When he talked to me, he told me what I needed to do to go to UCLA, and so I took the classes. I trust him. I also liked what I saw with Coach Johnson. He has a positive energy when he is coaching," said Mahelona.

Being Polynesian, Mahelona has met a couple of current Bruins of the same descent, and said that would play a role in his decision. "I want to go where I know people, and feel comfortable. I met some of the UCLA players who were Samoan and felt comfortable with them."

Not to mention, early playing time will be a factor. "I have three years to play two, but I want to play next year. Coach Kerr told me that UCLA has a lot of seniors. I've watched their left tackle (Rodney Leisle) and he is good. And the other guy is a JC guy (Ryan Boschetti), too. I know they graduate some guys," said Mahelona.

While there still is the chance for Hawaii to come back and get on him, Mahelona enjoys being on the mainland, and prefers to stay out here for school. "I like it a lot out here. I doubt that I would go back, but you never know," Mahelona said.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories