This call came out of nowhere, almost.
When Blaine Hipa picked up his phone on Wednesday, he knew it might be a truly long-distance connection. What he didn’t expect was to have a scholarship offer from Tennessee.
“Amazing. It’s crazy. It kind of motivates me to want to do more,” said Hipa, a sophomore quarterback who helped Campbell reach the Open Division state tournament last season. “It was a big surprise. I heard from Coach (Nanumi) Lolohea by phone two or three weeks ago. They watched my film and they’d seen Titus (Mokiao-Atimalala). They were wondering who his quarterback is.”
There was no indication that the Volunteers would be the first college team to offer Hipa a scholarship. Playing in the SEC is a mind-blowing thought.
“It’s just crazy. It’s an opportunity to play at the next level,” Hipa said.
The southpaw passed for 2,582 yards and 31 touchdowns as a full-time starter. In 12 games, he completed 57 percent of his attempts and also threw 18 interceptions in the rugged Open.
Hipa has a 3.7 grade-point average and doesn’t play other sports.
“I’m focused on football and grades,” said Hipa, who plans to take the SAT in the fall. “My mom and dad were home when I got the call. My dad hugged me first. My mom was super excited.”
The COVID-19 crisis has players cooped up, for the most part. Hipa works out with a personal coach, Kelii Tilton, but most of his calories are burnt at home.
“I lift and run every day. I run around the block and I have some weights at home. I bench press two, three times a week, high reps. I’m just training by myself,” Hipa said. “I just block everything else out and think about what I’ve got to do.”
He is not expecting any more surprises in the near future.
“Tennessee is the only school that’s called me,” Hipa said. “They run a four-wide offense. I haven’t looked at it yet, but I will soon.”
Campbell (6-6) finished third in OIA Open and reached the semifinal round of the state tourney, losing to Kahuku 21-19.