A part of Tausili Akana wants to stay grounded.
As in, grounded in his neighborhood of Hauula. The former Kamehameha student-athlete made a crucial move to Utah last summer, playing his sophomore season at Wasatch High School in Heber City. His stellar play for the 5A semifinalist team netted new offers from UNLV, Oregon State, Utah State, Nebraska and Oklahoma State during the 2020 fall season — while high school fall sports in Hawaii were postponed.
In the winter, more offers arrived: Oregon, Washington State, Ole Miss, Colorado. Just before spring began, another: USC.
“USC is still one of the top football programs on the West Coast. The brand of USC is still alive and well,” said Akana, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound linebacker. “My family knows a lot about USC as my sister, Keonilei, originally signed with their women’s volleyball program.”
Keonilei Akana, a former Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year, is in her freshman season at Nebraska.
“I have been to the USC campus a bunch and attended their camp as an eighth grader. This is a big offer for me and my family,” Tausili Akana said.
He has been busy, as usual. Akana played with the North Shore-based Rebel Squad 7v7 team in Nevada during the winter. Two weekends ago, he participated in a linebackers camp in Los Angeles.
“Many of the USC players were there helping with the camp. I got to talk with Jordan Iosefa from Hawaii and other players,” said Akana, who was honored as one of the camp’s top performers. “He shared a lot of good information about the school and football program.”
Assistant Coach Vic So‘oto is the primary contact from USC.
“He has been in contact with me for awhile. After the linebackers camp, they contacted my coach and my dad, and wanted me to FaceTime the coaching staff ASAP,” Akana said.
USC has been one of the favored destinations of island players for decades. More recently, Mililani running back Vavae Malepeai and Waianae linebacker Kana‘i Mauga — each a former Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year — represent the islands while wearing the Trojan uniform. Last season, Mauga was a junior and Malepeai was a senior.
With 14 offers — his first three were from Utah, BYU and Hawaii in June of 2019 — Akana is far from satisfied. He is currently back home after playing at Wasatch, enrolled at Kahuku, and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing for the Red Raiders. He could return to Kamehameha. Between the three options, Akana hasn’t decided on one yet. The status of high school sports in Hawaii, and especially fall football, weighs in.
Hawaii is on track to have at least 800,000 residents vaccinated by May 1, according to Lt. Gov. Josh Green. By then, he noted, gatherings would be back to normal sizes.
Currently, the public-school Oahu Interscholastic Association is in the process of restarting spring sports. There is no indication yet regarding spring football training. The private-school Interscholastic League of Honolulu postponed football season to the spring, then cancelled the sport outright for the rest of the academic year. Some ILH teams have scheduled non-league exhibition scrimmages in April and May.
“I am training for another Pylon tournament in Nevada in April. I will be playing with TMF and Coach Kawe Johnson,” Akana said. “After this Pylon tournament, I will start to get ready for spring football and prepare for my junior season. I’m trying to be smart and selective on what I do and for camps and tournaments.”
Tausili Akana, Kamehameha/Wasatch, OLB, 6-4, 220
Arizona State 6/30/20
Oregon State 9/8/20
Utah State 9/14/20
Oklahoma State 11/16/20
Washington State 12/25/20
Ole Miss 3/3/21