Like most everything in the life of young Sama Paama, there was no doubt.
The Kaimuki senior signed his letter of intent this morning to accept a football scholarship from Washington. The 6-foot-4, 335-pound lineman is being recruited by the Huskies on defense. Paama played his career as a two-way trench man, and part-time kicker as Kaimuki reached the Division II state semifinals.
Paama, who was named to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State first team on Sunday, committed to the Huskies on April 8. He turned down offers from eight other universities to play at UW: Arizona, Arizona State, Hawaii, Nebraska, Oregon, USC, Utah, Virginia.
There will be five new recruits from Hawaii this year. The signing ceremony in Kaimuki’s library began at 8:35 a.m. The library was packed with media, coaches, faculty, friends and teammates.
“It feels great to become a ‘Dawg. It hasn’t hit me, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to kick in pretty soon,” Paama said. “It’s a blessing for everyone to be here to support me, for my brothers to support me.”
His speech was nearly as impressive as his football talent. He wrote in on his phone and glanced at it occasionally as he spoke.
“I want to thank everybody who helped me get here, helped me through the process. So I thank them,” he said.
Paama thanked his mother, Ana.
“Most of all, I’d like to thank my mom,” he said. “She made so many sacrifices for me.”
Paama will graduate in January and enroll at Washington in February. He also thanked Kaimuki head coach David Tautofi for mentoring him.
“He’s a father figure to me,” Paama said.
Tautofi played at UCLA after graduating from Kaimuki not so many years ago. He saw plenty of potential in Paama.
“He put in the hard work,” Tautofi said. “He definitely set himself up for something good.”
Paama is prepared for the challenges ahead.
“My faith in God and my faith in my coaches,” he said. “I’ll work hard.”