NLI signing day: Kaeo Akana makes it official with Utah

Kip and Darlani Akana saw their youngest son, Kaeo, sign a national letter of intent with Utah on Wednesday morning. Paul Honda/

For a long time, Kaeo Akana and his teammates ran sprints of 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 and 140 yards up Pauoa Road at 5:15 a.m.

The stillness, the darkness of early morning was always there for Akana and teammates like Jackie Johnson III. This time, the early morning was shared with family and friends as Akana arose and signed his national letter of intent to play football at Utah.

“I got up at 5 o’clock,” Akana said of his normal routine. “I’m excited, excited to sign. I’m happy for everyone.”

By 7 a.m., Akana signed the document with his mother, Darlani, and father, Kip, by his side at their home in Pauoa Valley. It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for the 6-foot-3, 210-pound defensive end. In just two seasons, he amassed 36.5 sacks — in 18 games. The 2020 season, his junior year, was cancelled in Hawaii due to the pandemic.

But Akana never stopped training with his Roosevelt and Trench Dawgz teammates. He still arises at 5 a.m. to get his daily workout.

Pen to paper and it’s a done deal for Roosevelt senior Kaeo Akana early Wednesday morning. With his mother, Darlani, and father, Kip, by his side, Akana signed a national letter of intent to play football for Pac-12 Conference champion Utah. Paul Honda/

For today, though, the festivities at the Akana home will be a fond memory.

“Then I go to school,” Akana noted. “And take finals.”

He didn’t make any bold promises about the future. He has just one message for Utah supporters.

“I’m going to be a Ute.”

More signees are expected later today on this early signing day.

Kaeo Akana’s lockdown staples

Top 3 TV/movies

1. “Peaky Blinders” – Netflix

2. “Gold Rush” – Discovery Channel

3. WWE. “My favorite wrestler was Ray Mysterio, but he’s old now. I just like the old guys. I don’t watch the new ones.”

Top 3 food/snack/drinks

1. Steak. “My dad (Kip) makes it. Mostly in the frying pan. I like it medium rare. I use A1 sauce sometimes. I can’t make steak. I can probably figure it out.”

2. Salmon. “My mom (Darlani) makes baked salmon probably like every two weeks, three weeks. She puts mayonnaise and whatever on top.”

3. Laulau. “This place over here in Pauoa called Lynn’s. It’s an old place with mostly breakfast and lunch. Sometimes they don’t have it because it’s sold out. I had it a week ago.”

Top 3 music artists

1. Tupac – All Eyez On Me”

2. Biggie Smalls – “Juicy”

3. Warren G – “Regulaters”

New life skill: training my mind.

“Working on controlling my thoughts. Every day I wake up, we work out at 5 a.m., so being consistent. I don’t let my feelings control my thoughts. I get to sleep around 11:30 p.m.”

GPA: 2.9

Favorite class: Building and Construction.

“We’re building a shed. We’ve been working on this since the start of school. Our class is 12 people. The class is year long. It’s hammers, nails and everything. Saws, screwdrivers.”

Favorite teacher: “They’re all my favorite. I like them. They’re all good to me.”

Favorite athlete: Lawerence Taylor or John Randle.

“I like Lawrence Taylor’s aggressiveness, how he played the game. I like John Randle’s relentlessness because he was undersized.”

Time machine

“If I could go to the past or future, I would go to the future to see what it would be like. Maybe like 100 years from now.”

Major: Psychology.

“I want to learn more about the mind. We’re all about the mindset and how it works.”

Bucket list

“I want to take my family to Japan and New York. Japan is something different. We’ve never been there before. The history.”

Shout outs

“Shout out to the Roosevelt coaching staff. Coach Kui (Kahooilihala) and coach Jon (Kahooilihala). John Chung, our AD. Whitley Fehoko (of Trench Dawgz). My teachers, of course.”


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