Virginia has been on the heels of rival Clemson, closing the gap year by year with some help from the islands.
The Cavaliers have tapped into their Hawaii pipeline again, via assistant coach and former Kahuku standout Mark Atuaia, to catch the attention of elite Campbell wide receiver/defensive back Titus Mokiao-Atimalala. Virginia offered him a scholarship on Wednesday, the 21st for the Campbell senior-to-be.
“Virginia is a big school. They went to the ACC championship and they fell short to Clemson. It’s great that they compete with Clemson,” Mokiao-Atimalala said.
As a junior, he had 62 receptions for 1,136 yards and 18 receiving touchdowns. In 2018, as a sophomore, Mokiao-Atimalala hauled in 75 passes for 1,385 yards and 14 TDs. He also had big plays as a safety, returning five picks for touchdowns.
“They just followed me (on social media) recently, maybe last week some coaches followed. One of the coaches hit me up, asked for my information and transcripts. They called me yesterday (Wednesday),” Mokiao-Atimalala said by phone. “Coach Atuaia said he really loves what I’m doing and congratulated me on my success. The wide receivers coach called me not too long after that. He watched my film and loved it. They offered a full-ride scholarship to the University of Virginia.”
Three other island players, defensive linemen Aaron Faumui of Kapolei and Samson Reed of Kahuku, and former Punahou/Kahuku running back Wayne Taulapapa, are entrenched at Virginia.
“I know Aaron Faumui because I was a freshman at Kapolei when he was a senior,” Mokiao-Atimalala said. He commented (on social media), ‘Just like old times lil bro, let’s do this.’ “
Maryland was the first ACC school to offer him a scholarship, back in May.
“I know Virginia throws the ball a lot. Coach Jay sent me all the information. Three of their receivers had over 70 receptions. One of them went over 1,000 yards and the other two were just short of 1,000,” Mokiao-Atimalala said. “They like me both outside and inside, mix it up. I’ll be on a FaceTime call with them next and see where I would play if I go there.”
The process is fluid and, with 21 offers, weighty. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound playmaker hasn’t pared down his list yet.
“I’m slowly cutting it down, and then from there, I talked to my dad about having a top three, but he said we’ll see. I’m taking my time, letting coaches show me what they’ve got,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where I end up. Wherever’s the best for me, that’s my goal. I’m going to leave it wide open, but I’ll start closing some teams out soon.”
Through the COVID-19 lockdown, he and older brother Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala, who will be a freshman at Hawaii, have worked out anywhere possible. They’ve run on the streets of their neighborhood. They’ve trained at Phase 1. They’ve met up with some of the west-side’s top players like Malosi Sam and Wynden Ho‘ohuli of Mililani.
“Malosi them, we get together and with my quarterback (Blaine Hipa). New faces, new looks, get everybody on the same page. We’re all chasing the same goal, so we’re brothers,” Titus Mokiao-Atimalala said.
With July nearing a close, every football player is wondering if there will be a football season this fall.
“I hope there is. I’m trying to break these records. I want to break all the receiving, touchdown and yardage records. I’m trying to break it all. I think for the career one, I’m under 600 (yards away), another 50 something catches, and nine TDs,” he said.
After three seasons, he has these numbers.
> Junior year: 62 catches, 1,136 yards, 18 TDs (receiving)
> Sophomore: 75 catches, 1,385 yards, 14 TDs (receiving)
> Freshman: 33 catches, 394 yards, 5 TDs (receiving)
Total: 170 catches, 2,915 yards, 37 receiving TDs
The all-time receptions mark is held by Miah Ostrowski (2004-06) of Punahou with 226. The career yardage record belongs to another Punahou receiver, Kanawai Noa (2012-14), at 3,510 yards. The state record for career TD receptions is held by Gerald Welch (1997-99) of Saint Louis (46). These three pass catchers were limited to three varsity seasons because of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s rule prohibiting freshmen from playing varsity football. The rule was dropped in recent years.
“To the Lord above and my family for always helping me, everything they’ve done,” Mokiao-Atimalala said. “And go Sabers!”
Offer list (chronological order)
Hawaii (MWC) 4/15/18
Utah (Pac 12) 9/4/19
Michigan (Big Ten) 11/8/19
Wisconsin (Big Ten) 11/21/19
Cal (Pac 12) 11/21/19
Oregon State (Pac 12) 11/22/19
Washington State (Pac 12) 11/25/19
Nebraska (Big Ten) 11/26/19
Notre Dame (independent) 12/3/19
Arizona State (Pac 12) 1/21/20
Washington State (re-offer) (Pac 12) 1/27/20
UCLA (Pac 12) 2/5/20
UCF (AAC) 2/25/20
Tennessee (SEC) 3/5/20
Oregon (Pac 12) 3/17/20
USC (Pac 12) 3/17/20
UNLV (MWC) 3/27/20
Arizona (Pac 12) 4/8/20
Maryland (ACC) 5/25/20
Washington (Pac 12) 5/28/20
Virginia (ACC) 7/22/20