The Elite 11 regional in Portland, Ore. is not common territory.
When Tua Tagovailoa of Saint Louis went to his first Elite 11, the competition with top quarterbacks from across the region, then the West Coast, then nationally, put him on the biggest radar.
Jayden Maiava of Kaimuki is hoping to expand his scope. The 6-foot-5, 222-pound junior will travel to the Oct. 25 event with Campbell junior Blaine Hipa. Their personal coach, Keli‘i Tilton, will accompany them.
“The exciting thing is we’re going together, two island boys from Hawaii and show them what we’re capable of, what the island has to present to people out there,” said Maiava, who grew up in Palolo. “The Elite 11, it’s just one day, but it can go a long way, and it can turn into another (Elite 11) combine that lasts almost a week.”
Last year, the two-sport athlete passed for 3,317 yards and 41 touchdowns with just eight interceptions as Kaimuki won the OIA Division II title before losing to Kapaa in the state semifinal round.
He also rushed for 242 yards and five TDs, but he remains primarily a rifle-armed pocket passer in Coach David Tautofi’s system.
Maiava has offers from Auburn, North Carolina, Tennessee and BYU.
“I don’t know about that decision yet,” he said, noting that his dream school is still beyond the horizon.
“Louisiana State University. They got a good coach, Coach (Ed) Orgeron, up there. He’s spectacular. They have a good facility and they’re in the Top 2,” Maiava said. “Any college is good for me. I’m just going to work my way up.”
College and football are not his only interests. Maiava has a 3.2 grade-point average.
“I want to major in business. I want to become an entrepreneur,” he said.
Establishing communication with coaches is one way to learn the art of networking. He is on social media just occasionally to post video footage.
“I’m in contact with coaches. Texas A&M, Hawaii, Louisville, all my offers. Oregon State, UCF and Georgia.
Tautofi played at UCLA in the early 2000s. He had seen the changes in recruiting and exposure over time. He was not surprised by the influence of The Elite 11 on a superb player like Tagovailoa.
“It could have even more of an impact for Jayden. Unfortunately he, like thousands more across the state, have had to endure and fight for hope and a chance at having a season at all. This kind of an opportunity will bring out Jayden’s best and I’m excited for him.”
With several mainland states in the midst of football season, many others are bypassing the fall to play in early 2021. Either way, the NCAA has yet to change letter-of-intent signing dates. Maiava plans to hold off on a decision until he has his feet literally on the ground.
“I’m going on visits. I’ll wait until next year, maybe. I can’t tell right now. We just have to wait until the day comes,” said Maiava, who plans to stay off the basketball court. “I don’t want to risk getting hurt.”
Working out at home and the park is a routine that he and most committed football players have learned to embrace during the past seven months since the first lockdown began.
“We just keep training and keep working on the little things we’ve got to clean up, mechanics. We’ll do some 1-on-1s, some (combine) drills. The 40 (yard dash), L-drill, broad jump, 5-10-5 shuttle,” said Maiava, whose 40 time is 4.75 seconds.
“I lift on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the basement. It’s all a competition with Koby (Moananu),” Maiava said of his teammate and talented wide receiver.
Maiava’s max on the squat rack is 280 pounds and 245 on the bench press. He has a top dead lift of 365 pounds.
“Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are with Coach Keli‘i. The receivers, the other day we had Titus (Mokiao-Atimalala), Coach Kelii’s son and Cameron (Friel)’s brother,” he said.
Maiava added protein shakes to his daily intake.
“Protein shakes for breakfast and dinner. Trying to keep that healthy weight,” he said. “Ghost brand. I like the peanut butter.
Back in the day, Maiava lined up wide.
“I was playing receiver all the way up to my freshman year. It was my uncle’s idea (Keone Tamanaha). He took me to Vinnie Passas’ camp in the summer before freshman year. I didn’t like it at first and I went back to receiver, but when we moved to Vegas, my dad (Ikaika Maiava-Pratt) told me to try out for quarterback, and that’s where I began my journey of being a quarterback,” he said.
His family is still in Las Vegas. Maiava has thrived back in Honolulu. Quarterback is a natural way of life now.
“I had to get used to the responsibility. Running routes is tiring. I don’t miss playing receiver now,” he said.
Tautofi, a former defensive lineman, is impressed by Maiava’s consistent progress.
“One thing I’ve seen is how he’s matured in his approach to getting himself better and in his preparations,” he said. “He’s filled in physically, and even looks like a college quarterback but just a junior at Kaimuki.”
Top 3 movies/shows
1. Tua Tagovailoa’s documentary, “Tua.” “It was inspiring. Most of the world knows what Hawaii’s about, the talent here, not just the mainland. He really put us out there. He’s one of my role models, for sure.”
2. “Mulan.” “It was just a little girl who has a big heart. She fought for her whole family and her dad. I like the cartoon one better. It’s like ’The Lion King’, the animated one was funnier.”
3. “All-American” (Netflix). “It’s a series. I can relate to that show a lot, for sure.”
Top 3 food/snack/drink
1. Vienna sausage and rice. “I fry the vienna sausage until it’s crispy on the outside. I add some ketchup and some shoyu.”
2. Fruity Pebbles. “I like it with almond milk. I feel like regular milk doesn’t taste as clean.”
3. Baked spaghetti with cheese. “My mom (Jershua) makes it. I haven’t really had baked spaghetti in a long time. I don’t know how to make nothing. That’s why I make Vienna sausage in the pan.”
Top 3 music artists
1. Luther Vandross. “Dancing with my Father Again.”
2. Lucky Dube. “Remember Me.”
3. Drake. “God’s Plan.”
New life skill:
Maiava: “I’m getting my permit in two weeks. My auntie Jasmine (Tamanaha) and my grandma (Maria Faimealelei-Faitau). They taught me automatic, and my dad taught me how to drive stick.”
Maiava: “First off, to the man above. My parents and my grandparents on both sides, and all my aunties and uncles. And my brother, Jahssiah.”