Polynesian Bowl helps Kaulana Makaula’s USC dream come true

Punahou defensive back Kaulana Makaula, center, with parents James and Jackie Makaula after signing his letter of intent with Southern California. Photo by Craig Kojima/Star-Advertiser.

Kaulana Makaula always knew this day was going to come. He just didn’t envision it with him covered in cardinal and gold.

But on Wednesday morning at the Elks Lodge in Waikiki, the Punahou senior put pen to paper, making his commitment to Southern California official on a scholarship offer made less than two weeks ago.

“It’s truly a dream come true. It’s a great experience to sign with my fellow classmates and future teammate, Maninoa (Tufono),” Makaula said. “Signing at a school with such prestige like USC is truly amazing and I’m just glad that the man above gave me this opportunity.”

Makaula says the USC coaching staff started to get in contact with him in the beginning of December, back when his only offers were Hawaii and BYU.

Those talks started to heat up after his impressive week at the Polyneisan Bowl, where the defensive back was seen locking up some of the nation’s best receivers during practice. He capped the week off with an interception in the end zone for Team Mauka during the game on Jan. 19, although it ultimately lost to Team Makai 27-7.

One week later, he was on campus for an official visit, though without an offer from the Trojans. But the interest was palpable, seeing as though the staff flew him up to Los Angeles in the first place.

Then on the night of Jan. 26, Makaula heard the magic words during a dinner in the Santa Monica area.

“Coach (Clay) Helton and Coach (Johnny) Nansen pulled me aside and just said that I’m the perfect fit for the program and they would love to give me an offer,” Makaula recalled. “It was just a dream come true and I got to share that information with my parents. The tears were flowing.

“I was happy, my parents were happy, and that’s always the main thing as a child — to make your parents happy.”

After talking it over with his mother and father, Makaula tweeted out his commitment the next day.

Standing tall at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Makaula naturally has ideal size for the safety position, which is where he says he’ll be utilized during his time with the Trojans.

Like any other freshman, Makaula can expect quite the adjustment to college life. But he’ll also have a sense of familiarity with a variety of his future teammates, whether it be others from the Polynesian Bowl and/or players with Hawaii ties.

“The Polynesian culture, we’re strong. We have values that many other cultures don’t have,” Makaula said. “I just think that brings an edge to us. That was a big factor in bringing me there. When I went on my official visit, Jordan Iosefa (Saint Louis), Vae Malepeai (Mililani), guys like that, they just made it feel like home.”

Makaula plans to head to USC in the second week of June, one week after graduation.

This time, he’ll be there to stay.

“When I was up there, man, they just blew me and my family away,” he said. “The hospitality that they have up there is truly amazing.”


  1. Polynesian808 February 6, 2019 10:58 am

    This Kid will shine there, been the best DB in Hawaii the past 2 years.

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