Just one season of varsity football is doing wonders for Austyn Kauhi.
The Kamehameha football player received a scholarship offer from Navy in February. On Thursday, Hawaii became the second program to make him an offer. Kauhi, at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, is just beginning to find his stride.
“Coach (Jacob) Yoro called me up. He offered me, and then he wanted me to call Coach (Sam) Bennett,” Kauhi said of Hawaii’s offensive line coach. “(Coach Bennett) told me, ‘Congratulations.’ He talked about my highlights. He likes how I can move, how I play nasty. He told me he watched my film over 50 times, just keeps rewatching it. He said he really likes the way I play.”
Kauhi participated in the Hawaii summer camp in 2019, but his first contact with the staff was during February.
“That was in the beginning of track season. I sent them my highlights and they DM’d me back on Twitter. We started talking from there,” Kauhi said.
Navy made its first contact through former Hawaii player, now assistant coach Billy Ray Stutzmann.
“Maybe about early February. Coach Stutzmann would always text me. They came down a month ago and talked to me and a couple of people, Paliku Kamaka and Kawika Clemente,” Kauhi said.
Kamehameha head coach Abu Ma‘afala did his share of recruiting while he was at West Liberty.
“He fits the height and weight metric D-I schools look for. He carries his weight well and doesn’t look sloppy. If you look at the trend now in college, schools are looking for those good-looking bodies that might be 250 to 270 pounds and have the frame to stack weight on,” Ma‘afala said. “So they are a fit 300 to 320 when they get them in their system.”
Ma‘afala also sees the agility that separates Kauhi from most of his peers.
“The next most apparent thing that jumps out is his athleticism. The one thing I told college coaches was, last year was the first year I felt comfortable running outside zone because I knew that Austyn and Kuao (Peihopa) had the footwork and athleticism to reach the outside shoulder of any defensive end and pin the edge.”
Kauhi is a shot-putter and discus thrower, and doesn’t play basketball. He gets his workouts at home during this COVID-19 lockdown.
“I have a weight rack in my garage. I set it up. Me and my uncle (Kawika) lift. He’s my mom’s cousin’s husband. He had an extra weight rack so he gave it to us,” Kauhi said. “I have ladders and cones that I use for training in my backyard.”
He has spent three offseasons working out at Brian Derby Camp. Kamehameha offensive line coach Nate Nam is part of the staff for the weekly camp.
“We work on every technique, he’s trying to keep us all in shape. He’s trying to make us the most conditioned position on the team. We have to play every single rep,” Kauhi said.
Derby is famously tough on his campers. There is no mercy for those who do not listen, regardless of college offers and acclaim.
“I first went in ninth grade. If you don’t like it, you have to deal with it. He’s strict and everyone respects him,” Kauhi said. “We stick it out because it makes us better. We all push each other to get better. During football season, things you learn at the camp you can apply at the game and practice. What he says and how he coaches sticks into you and helps you become a better player.”
Kauhi expects to stay at right tackle. His compadres in the trenches were a tight unit.
Seniors Jameson Hussey (left tackle) and Kauhike Lorenzo (center) will graduate. Peihopa will return at left tackle along with Kauhi at right tackle and a solid core of young talent up from the JV, including Marques Hickson, right guard,” Kauhi said.
“I learned a lot from Jameson. The last Punahou game, we switched, so we talked a lot more during the week leading up to it. We alternated,” Kauhi noted.