Coronavirus can’t slow dow Punahou’s Tevarua Tafiti, who picks up 2nd Pac-12 offer

Punahou's Tevarua Tafiti sacked Long Beach Poly's Shea Kuykendall in the first half of a nonconference game in August in Moorpark, Calif. Photo by Victor M. Posadas/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing high school athletes to get creative with their workout time.

For Punahou’s Tevarua Tafiti, that means working out at home with a backpack filled with whatever he can find.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore doesn’t have any weights, so he’s improvised with workouts using a backpack that he fills with yearbooks, old textbooks, anything he can get his hands on. He’s posted those workouts on social media.


That work ethic is a big reason why the linebacker/defensive end hybrid has already earned three scholarship offers despite having two full years of high school football (hopefully) in front of him.

Tafiti, who had previously been offered by Hawaii and Utah, was given a scholarship offer from Washington today.

“I FaceTimed (UW linebackers coach Bob Gregory) with my family and (my family) was super happy for me and super excited I was able to get another Pac-12 offer,” Tafiti said in a phone interview.

Tafiti was on the Punahou football team as a freshman but really came on as a sophomore, putting together a highlight reel that includes this 70-yard fumble return for a TD against Campbell.

Tafiti was rewarded as the only sophomore to make the Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State first team.

“I was totally surprised,” he said.

Punahou defensive end Tevarua Tafiti broke up a pass intended for Kahuku running back Zealand Matagi during a game in October. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The Huskies currently have seven players who graduated from high school in Hawaii on their roster including five that signed in the same 2019 class, including another Punahou alum, placekicker Tim Horn.


“I think that’s one thing that stood out to me the most was how much Hawaii kids are there,” Tafiti said. “And the family atmosphere.”

The coronavirus has kept Tafiti at home. He’s taking classes online but still has a lot of free time, which he spends reaching out to different college coaches.

“I have nothing else to do so I might as well just start calling coaches,” Tafiti said. “I called (Coach Gregory) this morning and (asked) ‘how’s your morning?’ and he said just FaceTime me after with your parents.

“I thought that was weird.”

It turned out just fine.

Tafiti said the coronavirus situation hasn’t altered any plans he had for the end of the academic year and the start of the summer. He feels bad for the class above him, including teammate Kahanu Kia, who hold offers from seven schools.

This is the time current juniors are about to go through the most important part of the recruiting process, visiting schools.


“I’m just glad I still have time,” Tafiti said. “I feel bad for Kahanu and those guys. This is their time.”

Tafiti is one of three sophomores in Hawaii currently with scholarship offers. The others are Campbell quarterback Blaine Hipa and Saint Louis QB AJ Bianco.

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