Hoku Arias as alert and aware on an early Wednesday morning.
Early rise and shine time is nothing new for the Kamehameha senior. Signing with the University of Hawaii as a preferred walk-on, that’s new.
“I feel that from the coaching staff and everyone over there. They believe I can go out there and make a big difference first year starting out,” Arias said.
The letter of intent signing ceremony at Kamehameha on Wednesday morning featured seven athletes. Arias was a Star-Advertiser second-team All-State linebacker for the Warriors, acknowledged as a tremendous playmaker and leader for the defensive unit.
“The biggest thing is that even though I’m undersized, I’m not 6-5, 240, the coaching staff at Hawaii believes in me,” said Arias, who stands 6 feet tall.
Great LBs don’t necessarily have height. Hall of Famer Mike Singletary is 5-11. Arias’ favorite athlete, HOFer Ray Lewis, is 6-1.
“For me, everything is about speed and reaction, getting the ballcarrier down as soon as possible,” Arias said.
Kamehameha coach Abu Ma‘afala is looking forward to seeing his former playmaking linebacker make an impact in college.
“There were a bunch of other Division I schools that came in and asked about him as a walk-on. I just told him it came down to a financial deal and UH was the best offer. If he’s four or five inches taller, we’re having a different conversation. He’s a D-I talent and he’s committed to being there. It’s good that he’s here at Hawaii because I can keep a thumb on him and Tiger (Peterson), make sure that they don’t go through the freshman and sophomore woes that I went through.”
Arias fits in the mold of former walk-ons like defensive end Kaimana Padello, who is 6 feet flat. Padello was a sack machine as a player at Mililani, but was lightly recruited by D-I programs and turned into a key contributor at Hawaii. Walk-ons have a proud tradition at UH going back to the Dick Tomey and Bob Wagner years. One was Rich Miano, who walked on from Kaiser, became a starter and played for many years in the NFL. Current Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich and staff have revived the process in recent seasons.