The options were plenty enough for Blazen Lono-Wong.
The 6-foot-5, 242-pound Kailua defensive end opted for Arizona State, signing with the Sun Devils during a ceremony at Kailua High School on Wednesday morning. He is one of a handful of local prospects signing with FBS football programs today. A large majority of football players signed their national letters of intent on the early signing day in December.
Lono-Wong turned down offers from Hawaii and Boise State.
“I really enjoy the coaching staff. They all make me feel comfortable. I trust they can get me to the next level, the NFL,” Lono-Wong said. “I’m excited, truly blessed to be given this opportunity.”
ASU assistant coach Shaun Aguano, a Kapaa graduate, continues to work the pipeline to the islands. He is also responsible for the Sun Devils being the first FBS program to make a scholarship offer to Kapaa junior standout Solomone Malafu.
Arizona State’s defensive line coach is Robert Rodriguez.
“He was a coach with the Minnesota Vikings. He coached Everson Griffin and Danielle Hunter,” Lono-Wong said.
Lono-Wong also had a conversation with ASU head coach Herm Edwards.
“It was really awesome talking to him. He’s a down-to-earth guy. That’s what I love about him. He makes you feel welcome. He’s all about family. He always says it’s family first,” Lono-Wong said. “Thats what I appreciate about him.”
Family is where he built his values and priorities. It is also where he got his frame. As a freshman, he was 6 feet, 1 inch and 180 pounds.
“My dad’s side has some pretty big guys. My mom’s side is pretty tall, so it’s from both sides,” he said.
There are no special protein shakes for Lono-Wong. He’s just hungry all the time.
“Just eating choke spam and rice, vienna sausage, eggs,” he said.
There will possibly be a rice cooker and hot plate with a stack of Spam in his dorm room this fall in Tempe. The chance to remain in a comfort zone was a serious consideration. The pluses were many if he had chosen UH.
“Staying home and having family here already, giving them the opportunity to actually come see me in person, representing the name on the back of my plate. It’s cheaper and easier to see me if I stayed home,” he said.
Boise State was less appealing.
“To be honest, we don’t really know,” Lono-Wong said of the advantages.
When the pandemic and restrictions hit the islands in 2020, he didn’t have a place to work out.
“My mom them built us a makeshift gym since COVID. Pretty much our whole garage is all weights. I lift with my dad (Antonio Wong) and my brother (Kaizen Lono-Wong),” he said.
Like Blazen, Kaizen Lono-Wong is not playing football until high school. He is an eighth grader.
“My mom’s going to let him play and try out in high school. That’s what they did with me, I didn’t play football until high school. They weren’t really comfortable with that sport,” he said.
What mom, Tiana, is comfortable with is baseball.
“I started playing baseball when I was 4. Windward Pony League. My uncle Tusi (Kekaula) was the president of that league,” he said.
At Kailua, he played shortstop, first base, third base and pitched as a freshman under coach Corey Ishigo. Since then, he has played all three outfield positions. He belted a grand slam as a sophomore and another as a junior.
Lono-Wong says he hasn’t picked up a bat in some time.
“I’ll play baseball soon. February 22. I’m strictly training for football. I love football more,” he said. “Mom is the one who wants me to play one more year.”