(Here’s an extended version of this morning’s feature story).
If Ranan Mamiya wrote the details of his personal highlights, they would be engulfed by names and numbers.
As in the names and jersey numbers of his teammates — his blockers. For his nine rushing touchdowns, the numerals worn by his offensive linemen, a.k.a. the Bamboolahs. For his touchdown returns on kickoffs and punts, the numbers of his wall builders. And for that touchdown pass he threw on Saturday against Aiea, much the same, including the receiver who turned a short toss into a 71-yard score.
Alas, it appears that all Mamiya touches turns into gold for the Farrington Governors, who are now 4-0 and atop the OIA Blue Division.
“I can’t say enough for his character,” Farrington coach Randall Okimoto said. “He’s always congratulating his offensive linemen.”
Okimoto has a powerful combination of players in his backfield, from hard-nosed, speedy Challen Faamatau to brick-wall-solid Freedom Alualu and Bugsy Tui. Mamiya brings something unique.
“Talk about a fluid runner, he makes it look effort less, kind of like Matt Bell,” he said, referring to one of the Govs’ top rushers nearly a decade ago. “He has a tendency to bounce off people who go high.”
Even gifts from above — Mamiya considers his speed to be God-given — don’t always turn into rewards, not on the gridiron. Mamiya is just stoked about coming in from a small school and feeling embraced at a big one.
“When I first got here, they really took me into their family. They helped me be who I am now,” he said.
A year ago, Mamiya was a running back-turned-quarterback for Division II St. Francis. All season long, he lined up at quarterback after the starter suffered a season-ending injury. Much of the time, it was quarterback keeper right and quarterback keeper left. The Saints battled and gave Damien a good test before losing in the ILH D-II semifinals. Mamiya went on to play basketball and baseball for the Saints. By summer, he was working out with teammate Keola Kealoha and former Pac-Five player Keoni Tom-Millare — another RB-turned-QB during his prep career — and doing it with devotion.
While Mamiya worked out all summer, including trips to the gym with his mom (Tami), his speed increased and his vertical went bonkers. There’s a video on YouTube of Mamiya, who is 5-foot-11 and said he now weighs 170 pounds, easily dunking a basketball. But unlike many top local athletes who pay their way to the mainland to perform before college recruiters, Mamiya never left the 50th state.
“I didn’t go to any combines or camps,” Mamiya said. “Financially, it’s not so easy.”
During the summer, he made one move, actually. He enrolled at Farrington, one of the OIA’s perennial powerhouses. Between playing D-II and paying tuition — even with a 50-percent financial-aid discount — it made too much sense to become a Governor.
“I wanted to play at the DIvision I level in my senior year. Knowing that I was playing D-II since my sophomore year, it was OK, but i wanted to play better competition,” he said. “I was looking for what’s best for me and my future.”
Okimoto had no idea who Mamiya was at first.
“I heard about his highlights on YouTube,” Okimoto said. “We tested him against our defense. In a couple of pass-league games and scrimmages, you could see the difference in his speed and acceleration.”
His first name, which translates from Hebrew to English as “flourishing,” couldn’t be more accurate. In just four games, Mamiya has rushed for 383 yards on just 35 attempts (10.9 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns. He also has six receptions for 54 yards, as well as an 89-yard kick return for a TD against Kapolei and a 60-yard punt return for a score against Aiea.
Of the 12 TDs he has been involved with, all but two were of at least 16 yards: 25, 61, 31, 7, 21, 89, 18, 25, 16, 1, 60 and 71 yards.
Without the big-time camps and combines on his resume, there has been a dearth of recruiters who have actually seen Mamiya perform. Mamiya said he ran a hand-timed 4.3 40-yard dash, which would seem preposterous except that 1) he’s shown that breakaway speed every weekend on the football field, and 2) an OIA coach who is very familiar with elite speed has no doubt about the number.
Moanalua coach Jason Cauley spent part of his Sunday keeping track of Tampa Bay Buccaneers returner Solomon Patton, who returned two kicks for 52 yards against Carolina. The swift Patton was one of the fastest players in Mobile, Ala. during his prep days at Murphy High School, where Cauley was an assistant coach. Patton went on to play for the University of Florida.
“Ranan could keep up with him,” Cauley said. “Ranan has mainland speed. He’s about the same height and weight as Solomon. He’ll work out and get faster and stronger, gain weight the right way. Ranan’ll get picked up by a Pac-12 school.”
Mamiya had 97 rushing yards and three touchdowns, plus three catches for 26 yards against Moanalua in a 47-27 win.
“The kid’s amazing in every facet of the game,” Cauley added. “We saw him in summer pass league and I said, ‘Who is this kid?’ He’s a complete player now. His explosiveness is unreal. If you don’t get a hand on him quick, he’ll get away.”
Mamiya heard about what Cauley said.
“I’m actually surprised,” he said.
Mamiya has some serious work to do in the classroom first. He is not an NCAA qualifier yet. He hasn’t taken the SAT, though he plans to do so this fall.
“School-wise it’s a big difference. I think Farrington offers more,” he said.
The senior is also just 16.
“My freshman year, I’m going to have to redshirt. I’m not going to be 18 until my second year of college,” he said. “In a way, I think it’s good. I’ll have more time to prepare.”
Ranan is a name of Hebrew origin almost literally. According to urbandictionary.com, Ranan is actually derived from Rinnah, who was a son of Shimon in the Old Testament.
On a baby-naming site, Ranan translates to “flourishing.” Pronounced rah-nahn.
It is also the name of a performance company in Calcutta, India. There’s also a Seishin-Ranan road noted in a book called Special Agents Series (issue 172). The road, which is in southern Chosen, South Korea, is (or was) actually a 2-foot, 6-inch gauge used for push cars. Dig a little more and there’s a character named Ranan in a 2006 U.S. horror film called Turistas.
Right now, though, the one Ranan who is making headlines with his teammates is No. 23 in maroon and white. A human blur.