Opportunity at IMG poses big decision for Campbell freshman Kanoa Ferreira

Kanoa Ferreira, wearing a black beanie, has enjoyed the full support of his family. Front: Elena, Kiele, Kiana, Khloe. Back: Kaleb, Princess, Kanoa and Kimokeo. Photo courtesy of Kanoa Ferreira.

IMG is as brand name as it gets in the world of professional sports.

But IMG has also made a deep impact into high school athletics. Unbeaten IMG Academy was named national football champion by USA Today Sports Super 25, MaxPreps and High School Football America. Now, its reach has summoned one of the top freshmen in the islands, Kanoa Ferreira of Campbell.

“I feel excited right now. They reached out to me, that’s a big deal. I could be their first player from Hawaii, actually,” Ferreira said on Tuesday. “It’s a really big school. It’s top notch. The facility is amazing. It’s better than where I’m at and it gives D-I scouts more of a chance to see me. They won the national championship and they’re No. 1 in the nation.”

IMG Academy wide receivers coach James Price reached out to Ferreira via social media.

“It’s super serious. Yesterday, he called me for a conference to figure out a way I could get over there. He got in touch with me through Twitter. They have a national database where they see the top players from every state. He came across my film and he really liked it and that’s where it started,” said Ferreira, who has a 4.0 grade-point average.

That has opened discussion about a possible move by his family to Bradenton, Fla. It would be a major move. Ferreira has three younger siblings.

“My parents (Kimokeo and Elena Ferreira) think it’s a huge opportunity, but it’s a big move to Florida. Nothing is set in stone yet,” he said. “It could be really good for me to showcase my talent. It’s more exposure than Hawaii. I could showcase what Hawaii boys can do. We can play ball.”

Time is on their side. There are details to work out.

“The next meeting is to discuss financial aid. It’s an expensive school. They haven’t really said anything yet. We’re going to discuss they can cover and how much financial aid I can get,” Ferreira said. “We’re thinking of it right now. It depends. They’ve looked a little bit at jobs and houses (in Bradenton, Fla.). It’s close to Tampa.”

Ferreira is ranked nationally by College Football 2day and Youth1 Media. Despite a cancelled freshman season, Ferreira has not lost momentum.

“To me, the pandemic didn’t have an effect. I’ve been constantly training, working out with friends. Nothing has stopped for me. I’ve been training with Coach Kawe Johnson and Coach Samson Anguay,” he said.

Ferreira knows the Campbell program and head coach Darren Johnson well. He played for Johnson’s 7v7 team as a seventh grader and played with the varsity 7v7 as an eighth grader. He is well aware that Sabers senior wide receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala has 20 D-I college offers. Junior quarterback Blaine Hipa has offers from Hawaii and Tennessee.

“It helps show that kids don’t need to leave Hawaii to get D-I offers. That’s why my parents told Coach Price that I’m in a good situation already here. I was slated to start and play both ways at Campbell, so it would take a lot from IMG to get me to leave what I already have set in place here,” Ferreira said.

Kanoa Ferreira is studying hard as a freshman at Campbell.

College is a long ways away, but Ferreira has a plan for his major.

“I’m kind of leaning towards business,” Ferreira said.

Johnson had looked forward to seeing the freshman suit up for the Sabers. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed fall and winter sports in the Oahu Interscholastic Association.

“Kanoa works smart and has great family support. He has talent and reminds me of a person who is great with speed and athletic ability,” Johnson said. “You as a person will always determine your outcome.”

Ferreira also played for the All Blacks Crusaders in JPS and Pylon. Longtime coach Frank Lacaden hopes Ferreira stays, but the opportunity is undeniable.

“He’s an exceptional talent for his age. He has that IQ and definitely has skill. No matter where he goes, in these times, it’s rough. He’s going to help them tremendously, wherever he goes,” said Lacaden, who also coaches the intermediate squad at Saint Louis. “He’s got a good coach with DJ out there (at Campbell). It’s a tough one because I know DJ will bring him along and take him to the next level, but this pandemic makes everything hard. Opening up Florida, a lot of local kids are leaving (to the mainland). Can’t blame them. HIs parents sacrifice for him and he rises up to that and beyond.”

Johnson was a standout multi-sport student-athlete at Kahuku. He knows IMG is matched by few. Would he leave if he was a freshman in high school?

“I would weigh my options,” he said. “If it’s free, I’m gone.”

Lockdown staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. “All-American.”

2. “Cobra Kai.” “The boy, Daniel, he and his enemy both become sensei and have their own students that fight against each other. Karate Kid, all the characters are the same.”

3. “Stranger Things.” (Netflix)

Top 3 food/snack/drink

1. Loco moco, Zippy’s Ewa Beach.

2. Meat jun, Pearl’s Ewa Beach.

3. Nestle’s Crunch.

Top 3 music artists

1. Pop Smoke – “Got It On Me.”

2. Rod Wave – “Chip on my shoulder.”

3. Lil Baby ft. 42 Dugg – “We Paid.”

New life skill

“I’m currently learning how to drive right now. My mom and dad are teaching me.”

Favorite athlete: Stefon Diggs. He’s very humble, first of all. I like the way he runs his routes. It’s very clean and he has great hands. He knows how to read the defense really good.

Favorite class: Hawaiian History.

Favorite teacher: Eighth grade at Hawaii Technology Academy, my favorite teacher was Miss Tuttle. She was my advisory teacher and history teacher.

Shout outs

“Shout out to my parents and grandparents (Bradley and Joanna Ford, Roxane Watson). I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without them. Shout out to Coach Kawe Johnson for helping me perfect my craft. Coach Samson Anguay for helping me hone my skills. Coach Frank Lacaden from ABC, Coach Mike Harvey for helping me get faster, and Coach James Price from IMG for this huge opportunity.”


  1. Chacha January 26, 2021 1:29 pm

    Take that offer dont stay in hawaii were sports is at risk! more opportunity out of hawaii.

  2. Bow's Toes January 26, 2021 3:47 pm

    “It helps show that kids don’t need to leave Hawaii to get D-I offers. That’s why my parents told Coach Price that I’m in a good situation already here. I was slated to start and play both ways at Campbell, so it would take a lot from IMG to get me to leave what I already have set in place here,” Ferreira said.

    Das true, but the point of going to these football juggernauts is that school becomes non-existent. No disrespect to the great coaches in Hawaii, but you go to IMG or BG or wherever and you develop far faster and better against better competition and with coaches that have been at the P5/pro level and have far more “expertise.”

  3. Rock Watson January 26, 2021 5:58 pm

    True Student/Athlete…what ever he decides, a bright future is waiting.

  4. Reyn January 26, 2021 10:35 pm

    Bruh, you are dumb as hell to stay here and play for Campbell… That’s like turning down Duke to go to UH, who does that??? Home will always be home… Look at the state as it is now, do you think they really care about the athletes overall??? Bruh go and make your family and the state proud!! #stay4wut

  5. ILoveHawaii January 27, 2021 2:16 pm

    How is this guy not at Kalaepohaku?
    One that got away……..

  6. Cindy Huff January 28, 2021 6:45 am

    I am so very proud of this young man and the opportunities he has ahead of him!!

    Way to go from your Ohana in Ohio!!!

  7. ??? January 28, 2021 10:41 am

    Nobody knows his situation but his family, so saying “he’s dumb” to not go to IMG is unfair not cool.
    Would you choose Kalaepohaku or IMG? Just curious!

  8. hauoli53 January 28, 2021 4:47 pm

    He is a former St. Louis student and played for the All Black Crusaders. Lots of other players left Kalaepohaku for OIA, Vavae Malepeai and Wynden Hoohuli, to name a couple.

  9. Jaws surfah January 28, 2021 5:24 pm

    Like one of the coaches stated in the article “ He will make a difference no matter where he goes’ He is nationally ranked’as a freshman’ and education” is ranked!#1 in his class of 856 students! Believe me this kid going have offers pouring in. So I think no matter what his choice he make”s it will be a good one”

  10. Hauoli53 January 28, 2021 9:17 pm

    He is a former St. Louis student and played for the All Blacks Crusaders. Other players have left Kalaepohaku for the OIA…Vavae Malepeai and Wynden Hoohuli

  11. hauoli53 January 28, 2021 9:25 pm

    He is a former St. Louis student and played for the All Black Crusaders. Former players of Kalaepohaku have opted for the OIA. Such as, Vavae Malepeai and Wynden Hoohuli. But, IMG is giving him a GREAT option.

  12. UncleB January 29, 2021 6:49 am

    I believe’ this kid will make an impact no matter where he goes. On the gridiron and classroom’ He is just blessed with talent’ But that talent came from a lot of hard work and effort and support from his family. If he keeps working and studying “the Door of opportunity will always be open for him.

  13. UncleB January 29, 2021 6:57 am

    He will make an impact no matter where he goes”

  14. IloveHawaii January 29, 2021 8:33 am

    I was wondering why isnt already at Kalaepohaku, especially since Lac is one of his coaches.
    But, why pay for that tuition if football isnt being played, right?

    I really dont know the families financial situation but if he is as good as he is being portrayed he can get offers staying here at home, even at Campbell. lol.

    IMG will provide him an opportunity to be surrounded by better players, facilities and competition.
    What can he bring that will set him apart from the others?
    They are all fast up there and BIGGER.
    I hope nothing but the best for him and his Ohana in whatever path they take.
    Congratulations to him and all those who have helped him to get to this point.

    I cant imagine the pressure he is going through now with all the attention he will get from this article.


    The stress DJ is feeling.

  15. Maile B February 1, 2021 1:31 pm

    I know this kid” since he was five” playing flag football ‘ this kid has been through a lot” but has excelled to who he is today”his work ethic! Is unbelievable “ I don’t know how he does it “ but he trains almost everyday” with different trainers different teams Pylon and Tackle and still finds time to study !!

  16. AGTG February 2, 2021 6:25 pm

    @#3 yes the kids up there are big and fast’ as you say “ But I believe our local kids’ are big and fast too’ our kids are busting down the door! Hawaii has more than just good lineman! We have skill players “ always have” its just’ now they are getting noticed by mainland coaches’ and believe me Hawai’i has a lot of talent’’ and Kanoa is one!

  17. Yah you February 19, 2021 4:21 pm

    An offer was made to this kid from Punahou the Tafiti boy. It’s was after his freshmen season. To expensive even after financial aid.

  18. Yah you February 19, 2021 4:32 pm

    Teva Tafiti was the first offer from Hawaii, good luck young buck

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