Coming out of high school, Jordan Ta‘amu didn’t attract a big crowd.
As of this week, Ta‘amu has five football scholarship offers after a banner sophomore season at New Mexico Military Institute.
Mississippi and Minnesota have offered a football scholarships to Ta‘amu, who ranked No. 1 in the nation among junior-college quarterbacks by GridironRR. Two weeks ago, he was named Southwest Junior College Conference player of the year. He racked up a combined 3,190 yards and 38 touchdowns of total offense this season.
The smooth delivery and concise footwork of the then 6-foot-1 Pearl City quarterback were seen mostly by Division II coaches and players, and Ta‘amu moved on to New Mexico Military Institute. The move has paid dividends. D-I offers have been coming in.
New Mexico was the first to offer back in November, and then Eastern Kentucky and Southern Miss. Last week, a Minnesota coach and Ole Miss coach visited Ta‘amu on the same day.
“They both offered,” he said. “I’m super excited about everything.”
He was a key to Pearl City’s D-II football run while playing for Coach Robin Kami. Ta‘amu passed for 1,749 yards and 27 touchdowns with just five interceptions as a senior. He also ran for 420 yards and three more TDs. The Chargers reached the D-II state tournament in 2013 and ’14 with Ta‘amu at QB.
“Out of high school, I had D-II (college) offers, but i didn’t want to take that chance because I knew I was a D-I player,” said Taamu, who was selected MVP of the 2014 Life Champion Bowl all-star game. “I was committed to Pima (College) because their coach was a coach at the all-star game at Hilo. At Pima, I would’ve had to pay for my own housing. UH wanted me to walk on, but I wasn’t financially ready for that either. New Mexico Institute said they’d discipline me and get me ready for the next step. All I had to pay for was the books and meals.”
Ta‘amu is now 6-3 and 200 pounds with 4.7 time in the 40-yard dash. He’ll have to make some quick time with the next big decision of his life. The programs recruiting him want him on campus by January.
“I have a short period of time to choose a school. I have to decide by next week already. I think for me it’s about playing time, and at all these schools I’ll have an opportunity to play. They said they wouldn’t recruit me to compete for the position. That’s how the game is, you have to earn your starting job. No matter what, at all the schools, you have to compete,” Ta“amu said.
In two short years, he’s gone from a D-II high school program to possibly playing in the Big Ten or SEC. His advice to other Hawaii student-athletes is simple.
“If you don’t get any D-I offers, just keep working hard,” he said.
Kami is arguably Ta‘amu’s biggest fan, along with former PIAA executive director Doris Sullivan.
“He’s supposed to visit Minnesota on Dec. 10,” Kami said. “But I don’t know if he’s going.”
Ta‘amu was an NCAA qualifier at Pearl City, Kami noted.
“With good parents supporting, his family and friends supporting him, and the school he went to has been a great influence. He had to buckle down and they did a good job,” Kami added.
The longtime Pearl City coach has seen more and more Hawaii athletes sticking it out at the next level, regardless of difficult challenges.
“Nothing wrong with the JC route,” Kami said. “California JCs don’t give athletic scholarships, but in Nevada, Texas, New Mexico and other states, they do.”