Hawaii ramps up its recruiting effort

Kapolei quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa watched the ball tumble away after being strip-sacked by Kahuku's Miki Ah-You in the state semifinals last year. Ah-You picked up an offer from Hawaii on Tuesday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Kapolei quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa watched the ball tumble away after being strip-sacked by Kahuku’s Miki Ah-You in the state semifinals last year. Ah-You picked up an offer from Hawaii on Tuesday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Exactly three weeks ago, the University of Hawaii announced the signing of 23 players to its 2017 recruiting class.

Not a single one was home grown.

Fourteen of the 19 local players to sign with a Division I school were offered by the Rainbow Warriors, but with Kahuku’s Kesi Ah-Hoy switching to Oregon State over the final few weeks of the recruiting process, it left Hawaii without a single local signee.

It sure seems like head coach Nick Rolovich and his staff have vowed not to let that happen again. On Tuesday, Hawaii was seen all over Twitter handing out a barrage of offers to a wide-ranging group of prospects in the junior, sophomore and even freshmen classes.

It quickly got noticed by two of the top recruiting analysts in the country.

Kamehameha linebacker/defensive end prospect Jonah Welch was the first to tweet out his offer, followed quickly by Punahou linebacker Maninoa Tufono, who did the same.

We try to update offers as often as we can but it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t going to be a typical day. By the end of it, at least 10 players from Hawaii have been updated in our Hawaii High School Football Recruiting Tracker with offers from UH.

As of now, Hawaii has offered seven of the 13 players with FBS offers from Hawaii in the junior class that we know of. However, after yesterday’s barrage, Hawaii has offered all 10 sophomore and three of the four current freshmen who have received FBS offers that we know of.

The 2019 class is shaping up to be quite an impressive haul. Despite Kapolei QB Taulia Tagovailoa deciding to transfer to a school in Alabama, who knows if he’s back for his senior year? Even without him, the class features one of the top defensive tackles in the country in Saint Louis’ Faatui Tuitele, whose list of 10 offers already includes Washington, Ole Miss, Oregon, UCLA and USC. Tufono, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker for the Buffanblu, quickly added offers from Oregon and Washington State after his initial offer from UH.

Kahuku lineman Enokk Vimahi, whose brother Aliki signed with Utah earlier this month, has quickly increased his profile with offers from USC, Oregon and Nebraska along with BYU, Fresno State and Hawaii.

Two freshmen who added offers from Hawaii are Kahuku defensive back Kaonohi Kaniho, whose brother Kekaula signed with Boise State earlier this month, and Punahou defensive back Alaka’i Gilman, whose brother Alohi started at safety for Navy this past season.

Hawaii High School Football Recruiting Tracker


  1. C-Pop February 22, 2017 5:25 pm

    Duh! Of course they need to intensify their efforts! All the sayings, gimmicks etc…”Pride Rock” all good bottom line is recruiting quality “Home talent” may not be the Hyped prospects but sleeper tweeners & profile prospects in state! Can’t remember a year all hyped in-state players not sign with Rainbow Warriors. Hopefully an under radar player rises! With local recruiters Chris Naeole, DL poly coach Suianoa (DC now) plus Rolovich, Stuttzman, OC, all former Warriors? What’s problem? Recruiting is life blood of a College program. June Jones staffs always recruited well, look at results & drafted players.

  2. Benz Pitolo February 22, 2017 6:20 pm

    Recruiting is a joke. They take size over skill which is why they struggle. Saint Louis proved they had the best defense with their inside backers making all first team lists but toilolo and Purcell not one of them offered? Kahuku’s Stokes is small but he’s a beast! Where’s his? Lee from Kapolei most picks in the state and no offer? No offense to the boys offered but half of em big but no can even touch these boys I listed. Hawaii has trouble stopping their opponents from running the scoreboard up because their defense needs work. Get all the apples for picking in our own back yard and Hawaii goes overseas? No can

  3. AOK February 22, 2017 10:16 pm

    Yup and the worst thing is its only an “offer” UH can rescind it anytime. And those 2 STL linebackers you mentioned will get their offers from mainland schools, and then Uh will give theirs. But by then it will be too late. Lose money.

  4. Chloropicrin February 22, 2017 11:27 pm

    Keeping the the top homegrown talent at home is always tough, historically just look at the last 10-15 years.. the only time I think Hawaii kept most of its top talent home was when Timmy Chang, Houston Ala, Uriah Moenoa, Gerald Welch, Leonard Peters, Chad Kapanui all stayed home..imo that really kick started June Jones era at UH; top local talent who had a following / name recognition added with talented mainland recruits.

    UH will always be a mid major, fielding a competitive team here and there. If the school won’t invest into the team, it will never be where people want them to be, winning and bringing the top local talent. Hard to keep top talent home when kids getting offered from top schools like Alabama, USC and other mid tier big 5 schools.

  5. Chloropicrin February 22, 2017 11:36 pm

    @Benz: in terms of local talent, I agree UH needs to be scooping up the kids you mentioned and developing them. There’s kids that can ball and not getting offers for who knows what reasons; grades, NCAA clearinghouse, whatever…If UH can tap into that kind of talent through the walk on program program or mainly targeting the kids that ball and have no offers and “developing” them that might work.

    In the past UH got some players on their walk on program or developmental program..people like Bryant Moniz and Chad Owens comes to mind. UH can target the 4 and 5 star guys coming out, but they should also offer and focus on the 2-3 stars guys; guys who can ball, have no offers and are hungry.

  6. Lowtone123 February 23, 2017 9:47 am

    My guess is if Taulia returns to Hawaii he plays at St. Louis.

  7. 89 February 23, 2017 1:38 pm

    I’m all for the local boys in getting scholarships and making it easy for their parents so they don’t have to pay for their kids tuition when they go to college but what Rolo is doing is a JOKE!! You offering kids that still have 3 years left to play High-school, when u have kids that are going to be seniors or they are seniors now. Kaniho and Gilman are going to be good but you offering them because of what their brothers did. Kamehameha DE, never heard of him but I’m sure he’s good if he was offered.Stokes and Lee are available. Why not offer them? Why not offer walkons like Padello, Look? Jus because we can’t get the so called top players to stay home we still have lots of other players that can play and can help UH

  8. realitycheck February 23, 2017 3:24 pm

    Here’s a perspective:

    College programs have a specific recruiting strategy, guideline, requirement, and criteria specifically that they employ based primarily on need relative to graduating classes. And it varies from school to school, division to division and conference to conference. To 89’s comment. Unless you know what UH’s recruiting strategy, guideline, requirement, and criteria based on their need with regards to how many scholarships they will allocate per position vs per graduating class, then you are in the “KNOW” as to why they are doing what they are doing. My guess, you are not in the “KNOW” unless you were in the coaches meeting as to what strategy they will do based on the adverse 2017 recruitment results. I get the point about the underclassmen 2019, 2 years out and 2020…3 years out. However, I think it’s good recruitment strategy for underclassmen who they see is good investment potential to build a relationship of trust for the future. Even though some may perceive that UH is basing their decision on family potential. Trust…that these coaches have vetted their decision and have used their criteria to fulfill the “box to be checked” meeting the recruitment criteria and variables. Long term effective recruitment is based on relationships and winning. By offering these potential underclassmen, they are building a relationships. To win this season 2017 and 2018, they will need to find immediate impact players with college maturity and college experience.

    About 2017 Hawaii High School Football Players that did not get a scholarship at UH: Once again, guideline, criteria, priority and need based on position and the amount of scholarships per position available; comes to play. Although you named some players; Lee from Kapolei and Stokes from Kahuku; was unfortunate but there were circumstances that some did not check all the boxes from the UH’s football criteria. Too much to get into; in this comment. A lot of variables.

    About 2018 class, trust they are evaluating continually to vet the best prospect not just in Hawaii but across the nation. They are looking at student athletes that check all of the boxes in the criteria. They have to find student athletes not just football players that can step in and play right away from the 2018 class. Especially if they want a standing chance at a 70% + winning season. If they need to go to a JC and find a DOGG that check the box and can play immediately, then that is what a program will do to have a chance at winning. There are good players in Hawaii, I know. However, remember, in the nation, there are just as good and sometimes better. That is what these coaches are up against in building a foundation. It’s college maturity and college experience. You have to believe, some of the super stars of Hawaii High School Football are good football players for Hawaii High School. When they take that leap to college, it’s a different story. With that, I am still an advocate of Hawaii Talent.

    Unless you have the right mindset. I applaud Hawaii Athletes that can go away to a college and make all-conference and rookie of the year honors during their freshmen year. Those student athletes are special and have the right mindset. I believe UH is making an effort to find those players early.

  9. H-Man February 23, 2017 3:35 pm

    Don’t blame Rolo and his staff. They offered but the players wanted to go to the mainland. It’s just that simple. Maybe next year one or two might want to sign with UH, but if they don’t, I really don’t care. I just want Rolo to get the best players that he can.

  10. Benz Pitolo February 23, 2017 7:14 pm


    I like know what boxes need to be “checked” because half of his recruits barely even saw playing time. How they went check boxes for skill when some of these kids never even showcase those skills yet? I like know what scale they using? Can you post the list cause we all like be in the “KNOW”

    The only “box” that the players I mentioned never “check off” is size…

  11. Alpha February 23, 2017 8:55 pm

    I would like to know UH’s criteria also other then the regular requirements a student athletes need to qualify for div.1. . .

  12. amela February 25, 2017 2:36 am

    Some people need to speak beta english no can understand wat dey try say.
    After this past recruiting season I feel the coaches got same or better replacements for the local boys they lost to mainland schools. Coaches could have gone for 2nd tier local players if the goal was to stock up on local players but this is quite a change from the previous regime. I hope Coach Rolo and the other coaches keep doing what they’ve been doing. These mainland recruits would have been top picks if they played their high school ball here I have no doubt.

  13. realitycheck March 15, 2017 11:00 pm

    Benz Pitolo-These coaches at UH are aware and know what they are doing. In terms of offering younger players. It’s about building a relationship when they are younger. That is how you recruit!

    You need to build from the ground up! That is what they are doing. Rolo is got something and he will do his best in getting in front of student athletes that project to be potential recruits based on their “UH” criteria. Every college has it’s own recruiting criteria. They all need to fit in that system or criteria. Happy for UH, need to be positive for them.

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