After 17 football scholarship offers, Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen of Punahou decided the time had come.
Early Friday morning, the senior defensive back selected UNLV as his future football home. Mendiola-Jensen released a video at 7:10 a.m. on his Twitter page featuring two minutes of his highlights as a youth and high school player, then closed it with the UNLV logo.
“I feel amazing. This is an awesome experience for me. I’m real excited. I can’t wait to see what happens next,” Mendiola-Jensen said. “I decided last week Friday. I got in touch with most of the other schools. I’ve still got to call one or two more and let them know.”
It doesn’t hurt that UNLV, a member of the Mountain West Conference, will play at Hawaii twice during Mendiola-Jensen’s career.
“My family, they pretty much let me take the reins on this and support me any way I can. I was pretty confident about going anywhere in the country,” he said. “The relationships with the coaches, they are awesome. They have that family atmosphere, the new facilities, being in Vegas, the atmosphere is going to be electric.”
His top three choices were UNLV, San Diego State and Arizona. The latter was the lone Pac-12 Conference program to offer him a scholarship.
UNLV already had a commit from the islands in Kailua quarterback Cameron Friel, who committed in May. Mendiola-Jensen talked with Friel and other UNLV commits during the process. He credited his family and supporters.
“I want to shout out Kawe Johnson. He got me right with my footwork and continued pushing me and developing me as I grew up playing football in Hawaii. Kaipo Chong from Aloha Youth Athletics for making all the (workout) videos and reaching out to schools, communicating with them. (Punahou coach) Leonard Lau for always encouraging me, always pushing me, always battling with me at practice. And my uncle Malcolm Mills. He supplied me with all the ladders and hurdles,” Mendiola-Jensen said.
The 6-foot-2, 158-pound senior is a valuable piece of an elite Punahou secondary. The Buffanblu went 10-2, losing only to nationally-ranked Saint Louis. He received his first offer in late March. He has a message for the other island prospects who have offers from UNLV.
“Come join the family. We’re building something different over there. We’re going to be the new face of the Mountain West,” he said.
The Hawaii prep football season has been postponed to early 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Navy (AAC) 3/26/20
Army (independent) 4/6/20
Idaho (Big Sky) 4/16/20
Sacramento State (Big Sky) 4/17/20
Eastern Washington (Big Sky) 4/21/20
UNLV (MWC) 4/29/20
Central Michigan (MAC) 4/30/20
Utah State (MWC) 4/30/20
Montana (Big Sky) 5/14/20
San Diego State (MWC) 5/28/20
Southern Utah (Big Sky) 5/28/20
Valparaiso (Pioneer) 6/8/20
Weber State (Big Sky) 6/11/20
Fresno State (MWC) 6/12/20
New Mexico (MWC) 6/16/20
Arizona (Pac-12) 7/22/20
Nevada (MWC) 8/13/20
* Committed to UNLV 8/21/20