In basketball and football, tall, long ballhawking playmakers are as coveted as ever.
Coming to the islands to find these hybrid athletes wasn’t the norm. The arrow, though, is trending up, at least for Boise State. The Mountain West Conference’s dominant football program went 2-for-2 over the weekend, securing commitments from Moanalua’s Keenan McCaddy and Roosevelt’s Kaeo Akana. The latter, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound defensive end, already has 16 offers. He made his decision while returning from three unofficial visits, the final one at Boise State on Friday.
McCaddy was under the radar until he received an offer from Navy in late May. On Tuesday, his performance at the Broncos’ camp was enough to draw the attention of the staff and head coach Andy Avalos, the former defensive coordinator at Oregon. The 6-4, 180-pound receiver/defensive back opened eyes during his unofficial visit to Boise State on the following day.
On Wednesday, one day after the camp, McCaddy and his mother (Lisa Miyahira) got the good news.
“Boise State offered me during my visit. I already had my visit planned before. We went around the campus and they showed me the facilities. It felt good that they wanted me there. My hard work was paying off,” McCaddy said. “You could feel the love there. They want you and there’s really good people there. They’re like people at home. The camaraderie is there.”
Two days later, on Friday, the senior-to-be made his commitment official.
“I think it was the best option for me. I took a step back, looked at my options, where I’m at, how they treated me,” he said. “That’s what caused me to make my verbal commitment.”
That’s also when he learned about Akana.
“It’s pretty funny. I called the DC and I told him, and he said, ‘We’re on speaker.’ They went crazy. ‘We have another Hawaii boy!’ They told me (Akana) committed right there,” McCaddy said.
That may have been a slight exaggeration by the Broncos, who got the commitment from Akana on Saturday. Same difference. Following the Boise State visit, McCaddy and his mother went to Weber State, where he participated in a combine and camp.
“My time wasn’t that good, 4.58 (in the 40-yard dash). It’s the same as the last time I was timed in my sophomore year, but I know I could’ve done better,” McCaddy said.
He is now five inches and 45 pounds bigger than he was as a freshman, when he first played tackle football.
“I think it was a blessing in disguise. My mom wouldn’t let me play tackle football until freshman year. I played flag for Salt Lake Redskins and pylon,” he said. “The new thing was the physicality. I started getting adjusted and it was a new game for me sophomore year. My mom knew it was coming. High is when it was going to be (whether) I take it serious or not.”
Until then, McCaddy was always an avid football fan, playing Madden on his console with his favorite team and quarterback, the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson.
“They’ve been my team since before the Super Bowl run,” he said.
He played soccer as a youth, and then basketball. By the time he was 11, football was his only love.
For McCaddy, who has yet to play a down of varsity football, the cancellation of the 2020 football season never deterred him from building his future.
“Through quarantine, that’s when I started going to the gym, probably around May. I got my gym membership at 24 (Hour Fitness), but now I go to Powerhouse. A lot of my friends and teammates go there, and I got my license. And it’s a little closer,” he said.
His long frame isn’t picking up major poundage just yet. McCaddy isn’t trying to add muscle in large chunks.
“I don’t want a certain weight on the bench. I just want to do 225 (pounds). That’s kind of my max. On squat, I want to get to 365 this year. On clean, I want to be able to move 225 cleanly. I can do it, but it’s not as clean as I want it,” he said. “I’m not trying to PR.”
He stayed busy on the fields, putting in long hours mostly alone.
“I was doing pushups during (the first lockdown). On average I was doing about 100. A lot of field work. We couldn’t use the track, so I was running sprints on the grass at Ala Pu‘umalu (in Salt Lake),” McCaddy said.
Every day, usually six days per week, he set up the cones and got busy.
“Field work was pretty much the same. It was fundamentals, not losing my basic steps. It was different movements every day. For a decent part of (quarantine), we couldn’t have other people at the park, so I was on cones, doing drills, making sure I had my steps done. Then later, I had Chad Owens Jr., throwing to me,” he said. “I think he’s playing baseball now.”
Moanalua coach Vince Nihipali saves his rave reviews for his players who lead by example.
“Keenan is someone who has special skill sets and talent to go along with his tall and long frame. He’s super athletic and still very new to football, so his ceiling is extremely high,” Nihipali said. “Keenan’s been working hard this entire time. We just finished our 15th week on campus and he’s always there, head down, tool pouch on, grinding. The kid is a stud.”
The longtime defensive assistant coach, entering his first year as head coach on field has two distinct comparisons.
“He is a taller version of De’Zhaun Stribling (of Kapolei) or Jason Rivers (of Saint Louis and Hawaii), with the ability to play safety/nickel at a high level,” Nihipali added.
The possibilities with Owens at quarterback and a speedy receiving corps at Moanalua were snuffed out by the pandemic.
“I think we would’ve put up big numbers, definitely. I truly believe that. We had a nice group of receivers ready to put up good numbers,” McCaddy said.
Though his sophomore highlight video was online, it wasn’t until May that he got that first offer.
“I like it. At Navy, it’s more than just football. That’s like a four-year investment for 40 years of a career, to go the military route. That what was nice and it was the first, so it meant a lot,” McCaddy said. “That was on May 28. They watched my film and they had talks with coach Vince. That’s when coach Stutzmann called me up and he said, they’ve seen what they needed to see.”
Within three weeks, McCaddy and his mother embarked on the trip of their lives. First, they went to Chicago, where his sister, Norisha, graduated with a master’s degree in reproductive science from Northwestern.
“Then we headed to Annapolis, then Boise, then Weber State,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect at Annapolis, honestly. Everything was new to me. It’s a nice country town all based around the academy. It would be a nice place to stay.”
For now, Na Menehune are gearing up for what will be, hopefully, a full 2021 fall season. Nihipali has high expectations across the board.
“I expect him to make big plays and be the spark in our offense. I would assume he’s going to draw double coverage. He is definitely a guy who even in cover-4, the safety is going to have to keep an eye on,” Nihipali said. “On defense, I expect him to make impact plays from wherever he is at.”
That is the rub, essentially. Defenses could shadow McCaddy, the pass catcher, and limit his touches, but there is no way to diminish him on the other side of the ball.
“His length, height and ability to cover grass makes it difficult to plan for. Because we are multiple on defense, Keenan will line up at various locations depending on the play call,” Nihipali said. “He has all the physical tools to be one of the best athletes on the field in any given game, on offense or defense.”
Keenan McCaddy, Moanalua, WR/DB
Boise State 6/16/21
COMMITTED Boise State 6/18/21
Keenan McCaddy’s Lockdown Staples
Top 3 movies/shows
1. “Money Heist” (Netflix)
“It’s four seasons. I watched it in about two weeks. It’s really good.”
Top 3 food/snack/drink
1. All pasta.
“I like Chicken Alfredo. My mom makes it at home whenever we ask for it. No, I cannot cook.”
2. Gatorade, light blue (Glacier Freeze)
3. Cookies and cream ice cream.
“All cookies and cream are good.”
Top 3 music artists
2. Lil Uzi Vert
3. J. Cole
“It’s too hard to pick a favorite song.”
New life skill: Driving.
“Driving is my main one. Since we didn’t play football, I was excited to get my license. My mom taught me. My uncle (Greg Miyahira) is teaching me to drive stick shift.”
“Shout outs to my mom and my coaches, and my friends. Everyone that supported me. I wouldn’t have made it to where I am without their help. And I won’t make it any further without the people in my life.”