UNLV is striking while the iron is hot.
Within an hour of getting an oral commit from Punahou defensive back Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen, Rebels assistant coach Chad Kauhaahaa made a scholarship offer to Roosevelt defensive end Kaeo Akana.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior also has offers from Hawaii, Utah and Washington State. He is a dynamic playmaker for Roosevelt, which reached the final of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II playoffs last year.
“We connected on social media two weeks ago. We talk around twice a week,” Akana said. “I called him today and he said they were going to offer. I’m very surprised. Every offer is surprising. These are very good schools and I’m just grateful.”
Akana is also in contact with UCLA, Colorado and Washington.
“Coach (Brian) Norwood and Coach (Jason) Kaufusi at UCLA, Coach (Junior) Tanuvasa at Colorado and Coach (Ikaika) Malloe at Washington,” Akana said. “Oregon State and Arizona contacted Coach Kui (Kahooilihala of Roosevelt).”
UNLV’s foray into the islands has been extensive in 2020. In addition to Mendiola-Jensen, the Rebels also secured a commit from Kailua quarterback Cameron Friel on May 18. They also have offers on the table for wide receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala of Campbell, linebacker Mason Tufaga of Saint Louis, linebacker Kahanu Kia of Punahou and defensive lineman Zhen-Keith Sotelo of Kapolei.
Other underclassmen with offers from UNLV are Saint Louis offensive linemen La‘akea Kapoi and Jonah Savaiinaea.
The new staff at UNLV is led by Marcus Arroyo, a former Oregon assistant. Kauhaahaa is a former Baldwin coach who led the Bears to dynasty mode in the 2000s.
“Coach Chad, he’s from Hawaii, so he’s doing good. He’s taking care of the local boys,” Akana said.
UNLV also had offers to Kamehameha offensive lineman Austyn Kauhi (Syracuse) and Mililani defensive back Fatuvalu Iosefa (Cal).
With brand-new Allegiant Stadium potentially opening this fall with the Las Vegas Raiders, it has become a part of the allure for UNLV prospects.
Akana is staying busy with classes from 8 a.m. to noon, followed by lunch and workouts four days per week. The weight room at home has been a bonus during this COVID-19 lockdown. He works out with older brother and Hawaii baseball player Bubba Akana, offensive linemen Iapani “Pancho” Laloulu (Farrington) and Po‘okela Kahawai (Saint Louis) and Roosevelt teammate Jackie Johnson, a defensive lineman and baseball player.
“I just study. It just depends on how bad you want it because we’re going through a hard time right now. I’m driven to succeed,” Akana said. “We’re doing online classes right now, doing WebEx meetings and stuff. It’s nice. I want the face-to-face contact, but online is convenient.”
Akana: “Coach Kui. The Trench Dawgz. Coach Whit (Fehoko), Coach Jon (Kahooilihala), Coach Vince (Mene). I work out mostly with my dad (Kip Akana) and Coach Whit.”
1. Deadliest Catch (Discovery). “It’s a dangerous job.”
2. Wicked Tuna (Nat Geo).
3. Chicago Fire (NBC).
Top 3 foods/snacks
1. Hot Cheetos Puffs.
2. Steak (medium rare). “My dad makes it with butter. Mushrooms. Corn. I can cook rice well. Spam, eggs, rice. Popcorn. But not steak.”
3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. “I keep it in the fridge. Me, my dad and brothers eat them.”
4. Ice cream. “Neapolitan. Meadow Gold. I guess we have to look for another one. Haagen Dazs.”
Top 3 Video Games
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. “I play with Jackie, my brother, Bubba, and my other friend, Jordan Champhara.”
2. NBA2K. “I play random people from all over online. I’m still like a low, overall. I’m working on it.”
3. Rocket League. “It’s a soccer game with cars. I don’t play Fortnite. I retired from that.”
Bench press: 225 pounds, six reps. Max 265
Squat: Max 385