Divine Intervention or Home Cooking?

Albert Ma'afala stands 6'3" and weighs 250 pounds, and the defensive lineman from Kamehameha High School in Honolulu, Hawaii has his priorities in order. When it comes to his life, his religion and his family takes priority over all, and those priorities are driving him towards a future college choice, hopefully one that will also involve a full scholarship to play Division-1 football.

"I have family in Seattle," Albert told Dawgman.com last night. "My grandmother's sister lives in Seattle and I have another great aunt that lives in Bellingham. Family is number one in my decision-making. I'm ready to go away, but I want to make sure I'm as close to my family as I can be."

While it was a difficult decision for Ma'afala, he's known since he was a freshman in high school that leaving the islands was the best thing for him to do. "It's always been in my mind," he said. "I saw all of my uncles that have gone away, and seen them come back with a maturity level that I know I need. I have two uncles that went to Utah, and they have been telling me that I need to experience life by getting away from home."

Another driving force calling Albert to the mainland is football, and it is something he is very good at. He was a third-team All-State selection as a junior, and few teams dare to run towards his side of the field, the strong side. His burst off the ball is already known throughout the ILH. "I think it's my quickness," Ma'afala said, when asked about the strength of his game. "I'm not the strongest guy out there, but when I hit the field, it's a whole different game. I really play by instinct. I feel like I'm a linebacker that just plays in a down stance. I don't bull rush much. I try to use more finesse and use my hands a lot."

Albert downplays his strength, but few can bench press 225 pounds 15 times like he can. He runs a 5.0 40, and has a 21-inch vertical jump. While his physical attributes don't blow people away, his game does. He is being recruited by some of the best D1 schools in the country, along with his good friends Brandon Ala and Enoka Lucas.

"Brandon and I both play on the strong side," Albert said. "He plays on the end and I play defensive tackle. He is just spectacular."

So is it going to be a package deal with THREE players involved? "Well, we're all getting scouted," said Ma'afala. "Our goal would be to all stick together, but Enoka isn't being recruited by Washington. I've narrowed my choices down to Oregon and Washington. It's tough, because Enoka really likes Oregon right now, but my family is in Washington. But I'm going to leave it up to God to make the right decision for me. He's the biggest thing in my life, and right now he's pointing me towards Oregon and Washington."

Ma'afala has official trips set up to Oregon for December 1st and Washington on December 8th. "I might check out Colorado too, because they've been after me, and maybe Wisconsin too, because they've been calling," he said.

Albert is looking closely at Washington not only because of family concerns, but also because of 'local' ties. "Coach (Tom) Williams told me about the locals that are there, and I'm friends with Joe Lobendahn and Willie Kava," he said. "He said that Washington tries to promote their island ties, and he said I would fit in really well there."

Will he make his decision after visiting the Huskies and Ducks? It sure sounds like it. "I'm going to take my trips and ask a lot of questions, not just about football," said Albert. "I need to know about the academics too. I want to try maybe pre-law or pre-med." He will be taking the SAT in November.

Right now, first things are first for Ma'afala, as he's helping the Warriors go undefeated. "We're 5-0-1 so far," he said. "We tied Saint Louis. We were ahead 17-0 and then gave up two big plays. We ended up tying 24-24."

We'll be in touch with Albert for another update before he heads off for his official trips.

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