The 6-2, 295-pound defensive tackle was good enough to earn unanimous All-Mission Conference Central and All-California Region IV honors as a freshman. He has packed on 15 pounds since and with his 4.9 speed, excellent for a big man, and December graduation date, should have the recruiters panting in anticipation.
"Jesse is as good as any defensive lineman we've had here in 17 years," said Pirates head coach Mike Taylor. "His potential is unlimited. Everybody in the country is recruiting him and he has already had offers from some major schools."
Mahelona attended Kealakehe High School in Kailua on the Kona Coast of Hawaii. June Jones and the University of Hawaii staff wanted him badly, but Jesse opted for a two-year tour at Orange Coast College along with his brother Steven, a running back, and several others. The Hawaiian connection started with OCC offensive lineman Keola Loo, now at Washington State, who encouraged the others to come to Southern California.
Mahelona appeared almost weekly in the Mission Conference "Player of the Week" nominations. For example in a game against rival Fullerton he recorded six tackles (3 solo), a sack, and blocked a punt. The previous week he had nine solo stops, five for losses, and five assists in a loss to Santa Ana.
Although he left Hawaii as a non-qualifier, Mahelona is carrying a 2.85 grade point average and is on target for a December graduation. Being available for spring practice at his next stop is a huge step. Our prediction is that we will be reading about Jesse Mahelona for years to come.