The GPA Showcase began with the unsung specialists.
Nowhere does football get more unsung than it does for the long snapper. Former Saint Louis three-year long snapper Peyton Yanagi, who is walking on at Oregon this fall, was one of the coaches on the field at high noon.
“I’ve only got six guys (long snapping), but they bring something special. I think it’s just about cleaning up their technique. They have the right ideas,” Yanagi said.
His background in coaching is limited, but he has also learned from some of the best: Jake Ingram and brother Luke Ingram, who went from Mililani to UH to the NFL, and Chris Rubio, who runs the long-snapping side of the camps run by kicking guru Chris Sailer. Yanagi has also learned the craft at OneOnOne Kicking.
“It’s about getting the legs to extend. Extension helps with the arms to create that whip effect when you follow through,” he said. “Your legs are your power. It’ll activate your core.”
One of the pluses for the staff is that they each segment — kicking-game specialists, linemen and skill-position — has classroom time each day of the combine. The better to show each player specifically what needs refining.
“We do a film session, but I can pull it up on the field if I have to,” Yanagi said.
Among the coaches from the college ranks on hand is former Kailua standout Manako Tuifua, now in his sixth year as a defensive line coach at Azusa Pacific. He landed at APU via Pasadena City College.
“All the kids are coachable. We’re family oriented. That’s what the program has to offer,” Tuifua said. “There’s a lot more than just physical ability. It’s the personality of the kid, if they’re coachable and can do the job.”
The biggest advice, he added, that any high school student-athlete can get is basic.
“Academics, they have to know how important academics are. That’s the key to taking on little details. It’s something they have to take serious from freshman year. Kids who pick it up junior, senior year, it’s kind of too late,” Tuifua said.
Some of Azusa Pacific’s competitors are here. Tuifua noted that players from Hawaii may feel like they’re a long way from home, but he and the other APU coaches zone in on prospects who can connect one on one.
“It’s about building relationships with the coaches, you want to go somewhere where you can trust the coaches,” Tuifua said.
He is specifically looking for pass rushers, of course.
“Everyone has their own technique. Kind of depends on what you’re teaching,” Tuifua said. “We play a pretty unique defense because of our head coach, Victor Santa Cruz, who played at Hawaii.”