For months, even years, ‘Iolani’s Lanakila Pei hoped for a chance to play Division I college football.
In the span of one week, his dream has become reality and then some. He visited Washington, the alma mater of his parents, and came home with a preferred walk-on opportunity.
Then, on Monday, Hawaii made him a scholarship offer. The Warriors had been in communication with Pei for two years. Pei moved from safety to linebacker during that time to help the Raiders win the ILH and reach the state final. His standout senior season led to an All-State first-team selection, then came MVP honors at the Polynesian Bowl two weeks ago.
With the change of coaches at Hawaii, Pei got the call from assistant coach Jacob Yoro.
“If Coach Todd (Graham) wasn’t there, I’d probably have only the preferred walk-on,” Pei said.
Pei had two interceptions in the Polynesian Bowl while playing cornerback for the first time.
“The Bowl helped, but not as much as I thought it would,” he noted.
Army and Oregon showed interest after the all-star game. Washington is still on the board.
“Washington has been my dream school since my sophomore year. My parents went there. My dad (Meki Pei) played there,” Pei said. “My parents really want me to go to UW. Coach Jacob knows it’s going to be a tough decision for me.”
‘Iolani coach Wendell Look had campaigned on behalf of his defensive standout a long time.
“I’m very happy for him, that all his hard work has paid off for him. He stayed focused on what he could control and let his play, character and leadership speak for him,” Look said. “The lack of offers just fueled his fire to work harder to prove that he is a D-I football player. He was a young man on a mission this season and he has proven that he is a big-time playmaker.”
Letter-of-intent signing day is Feb. 5.