‘Iolani standout Lanakila Pei ponders offer from Hawaii

'Iolani senior Lanakila Pei received his first full D-I scholarship this week. Photo by Liam Monahan/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

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.


  1. turfwar January 28, 2020 11:08 pm

    Good luck making this decision young man. Be grateful you have options and go with your heart. Then don’t look back and make the most of it. Have enjoyed watching you this season and I believe you can be pretty special when you find your spot on the field.

  2. Angela January 29, 2020 12:23 am

    Mahalo @turfwar for the good advice!
    Aloha-Lanakila’s mom

  3. Kanaboy’s dad January 29, 2020 9:43 pm

    UW might have been mom and dads school, but trust me many years in the military taught me something about representing my home? I can tell you without a doubt Hawai’i is the only place you can truly represent your home! But Hawaii will be behind you wherever you go! Blessings!

  4. Kevin Suehiro January 30, 2020 4:22 pm

    All this kid does is BALL! The tape does not lie. Looks like the local version of Tyrann Mathieu or Budda Baker to me. If Hawai’i is lucky enough to sign him, we will have the makings of a great secondary (or linebacking corps if he continues to grow).

  5. Imua2 February 20, 2020 2:58 pm

    This kid has football smart! He doesn’t have the greatest speed nor the physical body but man he’s got a nose for the football. He’s pre-read is awesome as far as making adjustment for the defensive backs. I would take this kid over anybody from Hawaii this year!

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