Ten days ago, La‘akea Kapoi had four football scholarship offers.
This morning, he has five. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Saint Louis offensive lineman now has an offer from Michigan, the first Big Ten Conference school on his list. His other offers are from Hawaii, Syracuse, UNLV and Arizona State.
“Michigan is definitely a game-changer,” Kapoi said.
Kapoi had connected with Wolverines defensive line coach Shaun Nua two months ago, but communication was intermittent since.
“(Coach Nua) was a D-line coach at Navy when my brother (Alema, now at Hawaii) was there,” Kapoi said. “When he started looking at my film, he said, ‘we have eyes on you.’ ”
On Friday morning, Kapoi arose and got a surprise.
“This morning, I didn’t know it was going to come like that, especially being a Big Ten school, and me getting an offer going into my junior year. It’s a blessing. All offers are a blessing,” he said.
Kapoi’s oldest brother, Micah, played at another Big Ten school, Wisconsin, and is a graduate assistant there.
“It’s definitely different. I’m kind of used to the way they play. I’ve been watching my brother play at Wisconsin for so many years and I know what they expect. I think at Michigan they keep it balanced. For the most part from what I’ve seen last year, they like to run the ball,” he said.
The pile of offers for Saint Louis trench men is becoming a mountain.
“Knowing the kind of guy La‘akea is, he works hard, and this will drive him to work harder and continue to get better,” Saint Louis co-offensive line coach Rob Crowell said.
Utah, BYU, Wisconsin, San Jose State, Colorado, UCLA and San Diego State are also in contact with Kapoi.
The sweeping barrage of offers for Saint Louis offensive linemen has been impressive during the extended offseason. Despite a postponed fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kapoi, Kalan Ellis and Jonah Savaiinaea have gone from zero offers to a bucket full. Ellis (6-5, 350) committed to Syracuse in July. Savaiinaea (6-4, 345) has offers from Hawaii, UNLV, Arizona State and Syracuse. Kapoi and Savaiinaea are juniors. Ellis is a senior.
“Our offensive line, they’re a pretty tight-knit group. I know the guys are happy when they see the boys get offers. This is not only great for La‘a and his family, but for our O-line and team, as well,” Crowell said.
A key, common denominator among the Crusaders’ O-line: each has a grade-point average of at least 3.5. School is strictly online at this point.
“I make time for it. It’s all about time management, so it’s been easy so far. I expect it to get harder later in the school year,” he said.
Kapoi had just finished his earlier classes and had a break.
“I’m going to get done with my last class in an hour, then work out (at home). I work out by myself. I have to be self-motivated. To be honest, I do better with a partner with me, but I have to do what I’ve got to do,” he said.
Kapoi’s motivation also comes from a strong support group.
“Shout out to my brothers Micah and Alema, my twin sister, Mehana,” he said. “Brian Derby. Coach (James) Hall and Coach Rob and all my Saint Louis teammates. I’m just a young man from Makakilo trying to make it out and make great things happen.”