Paul Honda made the rounds on letter of intent day, snapping photos of the athletes as they signed papers indicating where they would go to college.
By Paul Honda
They needed a little more time, but the final three commitments by elite Hawaii high school football prospects were signed in ink this morning at the Sheraton Waikiki.
The signing event, hosted by Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance, drew about 75 student-athletes: mostly football players, but also including soccer players and one softball athlete.
Kapolei safety Shaydon Akuna donned an orange, black and white cap at 7 a.m., making Oregon State his destination of choice. Akuna, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior, chose the Beavers over Arizona and Florida State.
V.J. Fehoko, Farrington’s pass-rushing force, chose Utah over Hawaii.
Punahou linebacker Jeremy Ioane made the surprise choice of the day, putting on a blue-and-orange Boise State cap. He picked the Broncos ahead of Notre Dame and Washington.
The rest of the mainland-bound signees, a bountiful crop, had no surprises.
Kahuku’s letter-of-intent press conference, set for 10:30 a.m., should settle more speculation. Defensive end Hauoli Jamora is expected to sign with Washington, while the Red Raiders’ other D-end, Kona Schwenke, has reportedly signed with Notre Dame.
Here are most of the signees as of 8:30 a.m.
>> Jeremy Ioane, LB, Punahou to Boise State.
The playmaking defender could’ve joined former teammate Manti Te’o at Notre Dame, but opted to play in the Western Athletic Conference for the perennial powerhouse.
“I kind of knew it would be Boise. I felt it when I went there,” he said.
>> Shaydon Akuna, S/LB, Kapolei to Oregon State.
Akuna has added size since last fall and is a solid 215 pounds now. Choosing Oregon State over other big-name programs had more to do with the culture in Corvallis.
“The people there, it’s a little like Hawaii,” he said.
Oregon State is home to a growing number of island students and student-athletes.
Moving to linebacker shouldn’t be a big shift for Akuna, a versatile athlete.
“They want me to play on the strong side. They like the way I play in space,” he said of OSU’s 4-3 system.
Akuna is one of a dozen Kapolei seniors who are going to play at the next level, including three in Division I. Tu‘u Lolohea and Dustin Elisara signed with Hawaii.
>> V.J. Fehoko, Farrington to Utah.
It was a long night, but by morning, he had a smile.
“That was tough, really tough. I didn’t decide until 12 (a.m.). Basically, it came from the heart,” said Fehoko, who starred as a defensive end for three seasons. He’ll move to outside linebacker in Utah’s 3-4 system.
“UH only loses Blaze (Soares). They’ve got Corey (Paredes), Mana (Silva) back, and they might have Brashton (Satele) back for one more year, plus Jake (Heun),” he said. “Utah lost all three linebackers.”
As a rush linebacker, Fehoko hopes to replace another island product, Kepa Gaison (Kamehameha).
Two other Farrington seniors, safety Vaughn Tomas and cornerback/receiver Alvin Faamausili, will play at Eastern Arizona.
>> Dalaunte “Taz” Stevenson, S/WR/KR, Mililani to Washington.
Stevenson was one of several island prospects who chose UW.
“They have a great program. They expect me to come in a compete for a starting position right away,” said Stevenson, who will focus on playing safety for the Huskies.
>> Andrew Manley, QB, Leilehua to New Mexico State.
Manley had an early offer from Hawaii, but that came with a deadline. When UH landed another QB recruit, the offer was pulled, as expected.
At NMSU, Manley (6-3, 220) may get a chance to play early.
“I’m excited for college. I’m excited to play already,” he said. “It was nice to get it over with. I don’t have to worry about recruiting any more.”
Manley will leave in June to attend summer school. Football camp should be interesting.
“Coach Dunbar, the offensive coordinator, builds his system around his players,” Manley said.
Manley is one of five Leilehua players who signed with colleges. Offensive lineman Jiniki Timoteo signed with Weber State, while wide receiver Kamana Akagi and defensive lineman Frazer Taua are heading to Montana Western. Cornerback Kasey Dukes is going to Pacific (Ore.).
>> Jeremy Higgins, QB, Saint Louis to Utah State.
Higgins has two older brothers at Weber State, but he’ll be the first to play in the WAC. Competition for a starting job should be fierce.
“They have a returning senior plus two other quarterbacks, and they offered another quarterback,” he said. “I just want to go compete.”
The Aggies have a similar system to the run-and-shoot offense at Saint Louis. In time, Higgins could read an opposing defense and see Saint Louis classmate Marcus Umu there. Umu signed with UH. They laughed about the possibility of a showdown in the future.
“I pretty much know everything about Jeremy,” Umu said.
>> Micah Hatchie, OL, Waialua to Washington
>> Graham Rowley, OL, Waialua to BYU
>> Kaiwi Crabb, OL, Punahou to Colorado.
The 6-5, 272-pound senior turned down offers from Arizona, Hawaii and Washington.
“I was Colorado all the way. The coaches were great. (Offensive line) coach Denver Johnson is great,” said Crabb, who also plays basketball at Punahou.
“Coach (Dan) Hawkins, I really like what he’s been doing. I was ready for this day to come.”
Crabb noted four other islanders playing for the Buffaloes: B.J. Beatty (Kahuku), Liloa Nobriga (‘Iolani), Mike Sipili (Damien) and Sione Tau (Damien).
>> Brian Suite, Punahou to Utah State.
The 6-3 safety picked the Utes over UH.
“That program looks like they’re about to take off with all the money they’re spending on facilities,” Suite said. “I was 100 percent set on UH until I took my visit (to Utah State). I talked with my family and I wanted to expand my world. It’s hard to turn down Hawaii.”
>> Sani Fuimoano, Punahou to Arizona.
The defensive tackle appreciated the flexible option offered by the Wildcats.
“The coaches were caring. They allowed me to go on my mission after my freshman year,” he said.
>> Wave Ryder, Kamehameha to Navy.
Ryder, who moved from receiver to safety as a senior, is 6-3 and made a big splash despite his inexperience at the position. He committed early on to Utah State, but changed his mind.
“Navy’s a better opportunity to take advantage of,” he said. “It’s not just about football. It’s about your education and everything after that.
An uncle, Jason Shake, is a Navy man.
>> Shaydon Kehano, Castle to Weber State.
>> Tahje Canyon, Xavier Peterson, Moanalua to Azusa Pacific.
Canyon, an elusive running back, and Peterson, a safety/running back, will attend a school known more for its track and field program (Brian Clay).
“It’s a decision we both made individually,” said Canyon, who rushed for 1,417 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“It’s a Christian education,” Peterson added.
>> Jordan Honjiyo, Punahou to Rochester.
The active cornerback opted to go East.
“It’s going to be cold. I wanted a change, a new experience, I guess,” he said.