College coaches didn't necessarily have that chance last year, since the tight end position at Upland was filled by senior John Reese, who signed with Oregon State in February. Mahina had just 8 catches for 80 yards as a junior, while on defense he had 50 tackles and three sacks.
Still, some programs have recognized his upside. "BYU offered me, they were the first ne, and it's my only one right now," said Mahina. "I'm hearing a lot from UCLA, Washington, Nebraska, Utah, Ole Miss, USC, Colorado State and Colorado too."
Mahina said that BYU is his favorite school for the time being, but that he liked UCLA, Washington and Nebraska a lot right now.
"I never had a childhood favorite," said Mahina. "I'm pretty open right now. I'm hoping to get some more Pac-10 offers."
Mahina attended UCLA's Junior Day earlier this month, soaking in the time in Westwood. "It went well, I really liked it," Mahina said. "Coach (John) Wristen is who I talked to and he said they're interested. He texts me all the time. I met Coach (Karl) Dorrell and he's a good coach. He looks like he's disciplined and likes to get the job done. UCLA is a school I like a lot."
Mahina said he was in no rush to commit, and that if the best option is out of state, he's open to leaving. "My family is okay with me leaving. They just want me to get a good education and do good," Mahina said. "I want to take some trips before I decide."
Programs are looking at Mahina as both a tight end and defensive end, and many are particularly intrigued with is potential catching the ball. He hopes to see his numbers increase now that Reese has moved on and he'll be the focal point of Upland's passing game.
This spring he'll also get a chance for some exposure, since Mahina will participate in the Scout.com Combine in Los Angeles and the Nike Camp in Los Angeles. Then, this summer he'll forego team camps to take part in a 2-week trip to Tonga, joining other Polynesian players to play football on the island. "It will be fun. I'll be going there for two weeks to play football with other high school players from around the country. I'm looking forward to it."
Academically, Mahina is carrying a 3.0 GPA and will take the SAT on May 6th.