Punahou OL Solatoa Moeai on patient process that led to Utah

Neighbors Solatoa Moeai, left, and Alaka'i Gilman of Punahou, who already signed letters of intent in football last month, attended the Education 1st ceremony to support friends. Photo by Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

He was there to support his teammates again.

Solatoa Moeai had spent years battling for them on the gridiron, an offensive lineman with advantages in physical and cerebral capacities. Punahou went 10-2 with Moeai as a key blocker for a pass-heavy offense that evolved into more downhill running with Vincent Terrell in the backfield.

Moeai committed to Utah in December, signing early and joining, among others, Saint Louis safety Kamo‘i Latu as a new Ute. On Wednesday morning, he spent time at the letter-of-intent signing ceremony hosted by Education 1st at the Waikiki Elks Lodge. He and teammate Alaka‘i Gilman (Stanford) saw quarterback Hugh Brady (Penn) and wide receiver Koa Eldredge (BYU) sign their letters.

Gilman’s father, Asai, is the head of Education 1st. Gilman, a neighbor of Moeai, still does the driving when they car pool from the North Shore to Punahou each morning.

“He doesn’t have a permit yet,” Gilman said, donning a Cardinal red Stanford shirt and hat.

Moeai was reflective as he watched signees take photos with family and friends on the lanai overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

“My parents provided me and my siblings with what we needed. There were times that were tough, but my parents, they sacrificed everything they could for us. I’m happy now,” Moeai said.

He had 13 offers when he made a visit to Salt Lake City. He wanted to wait out the process rather than commit too early.

“I didn’t want to make an early decision. It’s a big thing, where you’re going to go for four years. I put a lot of thought into it and got my family’s input,” Moeai said. “My mom wanted me to take official visits to other places, but once I took my official to Utah, that was it. Utah felt like my home away from home.”

His advice to future college football players is simple.

“It’s a big decision. If you do, make sure it’s something you want to do,” Moeai said.

He has rested this winter, passing on basketball for the first time. He will likely skip track and field. He will have surgery on a torn right labrum soon. After graduation, Moeai will venture to parts unknown on a two-year LDS mission.

“The mission. Utah was willing to let me go on my church mission, coming back after two years to play for them,” he said. “I’m turning in my papers today.”


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