Hawaii exports: Mainland recruiters in tune

It’s been said before: college football coaches across the country are putting a premium on recruiting island prospects.

But there’s more to it. It’s not just the explosive growth of interest in prime talent — Marcus Mariota and Manti Te‘o are the two finest examples — that lures coaches to the islands. More and more coaches on lower levels from FCS (formerly known as Division I-AA) to Division II, III and NAIA are becoming more devoted to scouring island talent.

For island fans, it’s no surprise. But just go back two decades, and the difficulty of connecting college recruiters with Hawaii prospects was real. The Internet changed much of that. So did the proliferation of mainland summer camps that helped local athletes gain big exposure — in live action — to the nation’s top coaches. Many of this year’s biggest local catches, like Fred Ulu-Perry of Saint Louis, have drawn the most interest during those summer events on the mainland.

But the second-tier athletes are who seem to be benefiting from the pipeline, and much of that connection has been sparked by Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance. The student-athlete service is non-profit and has been run for more than a decade by Doris Sullivan. On her Facebook page Thursday, she listed numerous island football players who have been recruited by smaller universities, colleges and junior colleges.

The reality of what PIAA and high school coaches like Kapolei’s Darren Hernandez have done — sending out a prolific number of video footage, transcripts and other vital information to recruiters — goes beyond height, weight and statistics. Sullivan and the coaches provide a level of trust that recruiters need when their targets are more than 2,000 miles away.

Sullivan’s Facebook posts led to this intriguing message late in the day:

“I got a call today from a college coach who has always looked the PIAA site and he watched the Life Champion Senior Bowl on ScoringLive but just never really pushed to recruit Hawaii. Today he saw all the posts on Facebook of offers coming in to football players and he said, ‘Damn, I gotta get in on this. Re-send me the rosters and recruiting sheet.’ Thats what I’m talking about!”

Here’s a list of the players Sullivan posted on Thursday alone:

>> Aaron Kokubun, Kamehameha-Maui, OL, 6-3, 310: Offer from Briar Cliff University (Iowa).

>> Zeno Choi, Kaiser, DE, 6-3, 256: Offer from Yale.

>> Jordan Taamu, Pearl City, QB, 6-3, 185: Offer from Pima Community College (Ariz.).

>> Preston Dudoit, Kalani, DB, 5-7, 165: Offers from Briar Cliff University (Iowa) and Saint Mary (Kan.) (lacrosse and football). Also has a lacrosse offer from Lindenwood University-Belleville (Ill.). Committed to Saint Mary.

>> Alexander Vainikolo, Maui, DE, 6-0, 220: Offer from Western New Mexico.

>> Leka Vainikolo, Maui, DE, 6-0, 225: Offer from Western New Mexico.

>> Allan Cui, Saint Louis, WR, 5-8, 180: Offer from Western New Mexico.

>> Derek Nishimoto, Punahou, OL, 6-5, 265: Offer from Briar Cliff University (Iowa).

>> Pono Lolohea, Maui, DL, 6-3, 235: Strongly considering College of the Sequoias (Calif.).

Again, Sullivan posted all this yesterday alone. She’s not the only individual sharing information about offers to local football players — and athletes in other sports. But she remains a key cog in the mind-meld going on between mainland coaches and island talent.


  1. st. anthony trojan January 9, 2015 10:41 am

    Thank her 4 what she do… so very many kids from outer islands… getting n accepting offers for many sports….gives so many kids an opportunity to get a quality education…instead of stayinmg home n hunt for work…

  2. RedAlert293 January 9, 2015 11:59 am

    I would like to voice my appreciation also for any and all individuals/organizations that are helping our island kids gain more exposure and extend their educations into college. PIAA Doris and also Darren Hernandez as the article states are doing superb. It not only benefit the football atheletes but also all other sports too. Much aloha!

    – oh and Paul Honda, whom I believe does a great job in high school sports to report news on the island high school scene with out being a bobo head like dave reardon.

  3. Doris January 9, 2015 1:17 pm

    Thanks Paul, I appreciate it! And thank you RedAlert and St. Anthony for the comments above as well!

  4. Paul Honda January 9, 2015 1:20 pm

    Thank you, RedAlert293, but 99% of the time I’m the last to find out anything. It’s just a small island, and Doris and Coach Hernandez have always shared everything in their heart and soul 😉

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