When April began, the COVID-19 pandemic had Hawaii in lockdown and Tevarua Tafiti was a Punahou sophomore grinding away with his homework and workouts.
There was not a single scholarship offer. As of mid-September, Arizona offered a scholarship — on Thursday — and the 6-foot-3, 208-pound junior defensive end now has 18 offers on the table. Arizona is the 11th Pac-12 Conference program to formalize its interest in Tafiti.
On the same day, Arizona made an offer to Roosevelt junior defensive end Kaeo Akana.
Wildcats assistant coach Andy Buh has recruited the islands unceasingly. Tafiti has a 3.4 grade-point average.
“Coach Buh has been the one recruiting our kids like Nahe (Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen) and Teva. He does have some West Coast ties coaching at San Diego, Fresno State, Stanford, Nevada and Cal,” Punahou interim head coach Leonard Lau said.
Tafiti’s knack for coming up with the football is an added bonus to his versatility as a defensive end who can cover. He is also a linebacker who can put his hand down in the rubber granules and attack from the edge. Or maybe he’s really a safety who can play multiple positions.
“I consider Teva, at the next level, playing somewhere in the box. Standing up, coming off the edge or attacking a gap,” said Lau, who played at Hawaii. “He’s so good at getting after the quarterback. He’s very disruptive with his quickness, technique and his relentlessness. He’s a very versatile player who is a very good tackler.”
Arizona State 4/15/20
Oregon State 4/15/20
Washington State 5/7/20
Notre Dame 6/11/20