Hawaiian All-Star Heading to Seattle

<b>Albert Ma'afala</b>, a 6-3, 260-pound defensive tackle from Kamehameha High School in Honolulu, Hawaii is all set to go to Seattle for his official visit to the <b>University of Washington</b>, but he'll be a little tardy. In fact, his teammate Brandon Ala, will also be a little late too, but it's all for a very good reason.

"I'm playing in the East-West All-Star Game today," Albert told Dawgman.com this morning. "Brandon's playing too, and also Enoka (Lucas)". On the West team there's Inoke Funaki and Mulivai Pula from Kahuku, Troy Esera, Mesepa Reed from Saint Louis and Joel Botelho from Castle."

It sounds like Albert, Brandon and Enoka have their work cut out for them, but Ma'afala is thrilled just to play. Playing in this game has become somewhat of a family tradition for the Ma'afala's. "I saw my uncle (Current Pittsburgh Steeler RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala) play in it his senior season and I knew I wanted to play if I got the chance," Albert said. "It's such an honor to play, to be recognized as a good player."

Speaking of his famous uncle, Albert keeps in touch with him when he can. "I talk to him about once a month," he said. "He's really busy and I am too. It seems like the only time we get a chance to talk is after his games. We talk about football of course, but he also helps me out with my personal life. He's been giving me advice about recruiting."

Recruiting? Chris definitely has some experience, having gone through the process before, ultimately signing with the University of Utah. "He told me that coaches will do a lot to impress you and to not get too caught up in that," Albert said. "He also told me to take all my trips before making a decision."

Fuamatu-Ma'afala's decision ended up to be a fairly straightforward one, according to Albert. "Well, it was a pretty simple decision for him to make, because he wanted to run the ball, and only Utah and Washington State were recruiting him as a running back," he said. Coach (Ron) McBride told him that he would be their running back."

Oregon was Albert's first official visit, and he had a lot of nice things to say about the school located in Eugene. "It was a great trip," he said. He went last week during the Civil War, and remarked that emotions were running high that day. "You could feel the tension, even amongst our hosts. Everywhere you went in town that day, you could sense it. People were feeling hostile. And then you go in the stadium and you see this one patch of orange and then the rest of it is green and yellow. It was pretty amazing." Albert's host was Robby Valenzuela.

What were Albert's impressions of the school? "I liked the school," he said. "Eugene is a small, quiet town, which is nice. It seemed pretty laid-back, like it is over here in Hawaii. I want to go to a place where I can focus on school. I was impressed with the campus and how much help they give to you as far as tutors and stuff like that."

As much as he liked Oregon, the feeling apparently wasn't mutual - at least not yet. "No, they didn't offer," said Ma'afala. "They asked me a bunch of questions. They asked me if I ever had any injuries. I told them I hurt my shoulder in the 10th grade, but it's completely fine now. They did some stretches with it and said that there was still something wrong with it. Coach Bellotti told me that I would just have to play it out and see what happens. There's nothing wrong with my shoulder, but they seemed to think so."

Albert travels to Seattle this weekend, then to Wisconsin December 14th, Washington State January 11th and Hawaii on January 18th. He has standing offers from Washington State and Hawaii.

Ma'afala isn't wedded to the idea of staying on the island for college. "Well, home will always be home for me. If I stay home to go to college, I feel like I might kind of get stuck there and never go anywhere."

Albert and Brandon had a visitor to Kamehameha this week - Washington linebackers coach Tom Williams, no stranger to the islands. "Coach Williams came by school to see me and Brandon on Tuesday," Ma'afala said. "We hadn't heard from him in three weeks, so we didn't know if we were still visiting. He came by to make sure everything was set up. It was reassuring." And is Albert expecting to be offered on his visit? "He told me to be ready." Albert and Brandon have already received itineraries and their hosts will be Joseph Lobendahn and William Kava, respectively.

Ma'afala has family in Seattle. "Well my grandmother's sister lives in Seattle and I have an auntie that lives in Bremerton," he said. "She's driving up to see me on Saturday." We will be in touch with Albert when he gets home for his thoughts on Washington. With the Huskies and Ducks set squarely in his sights, it should be an entertaining call.

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