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.
— Kanoa Ferreira (@Kanoa_ferreira) September 13, 2020
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.
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.”
Top 3 movies/shows
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 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.”