Deion Sanders and Nick Saban are a part of Tausili Akana’s life.
Not besties-level, but close enough to be on the wish lists of the two prominent college coaches.
Over the course of 2021-22 academic year, nine more scholarship offers have arrived in the hands of Akana. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound outside linebacker now has 42 offers as a junior. He is ranked No. 1 among linebackers in the class of 2023 by 247sports.com.
Deion Sanders, who has brought immense attention to Jackson State as its head coach, is the latest to board the train.
“The Jackson State offer was cool. I got to talk with coach ‘Prime Time’ Deion Sanders,” Akana said. “My dad is a big fan.”
Sitting in the office of Saban, though, was borderline epic.
“The Alabama offer is special. They really wanted my dad and I to visit campus and attend a football game in Tuscaloosa. As soon as my junior season came to an end, we flew out,” Akana said. “We got to tour the facilities, meet with coaches, participate in a photo shoot, watch a basketball game and experience game day in title town.”
Then, Akana met with Saban.
“The highlight of the trip was meeting with coach Saban in his office for 45 minutes. That’s where he extended the offer. He’s a very busy man, but he took time to meet with me and my dad to discuss Alabama football and how he sees me fitting into his program,” Akana said.
The Hauula resident played at Kamehameha as a freshman, then went to Wasatch (Utah) when COVID-19 threatened to dissolve the 2020 fall season.
That worked wonders. Akana had four offers prior to that sophomore year. While Hawaii postponed and eventually cancelled football, the offers poured in as Akana had a stellar season in Utah.
He considered coming back and playing at home after attending Kahuku (online) during the spring. Instead, he transferred to Skyridge, one of the top programs in Utah, and had another standout season. Akana was named to the Utah 6A All-State team after recording 78 tackles, 15 sacks, 35 tackles for loss and 26 quarterback hurries.
“I appreciate every offer. It’s humbling talking with coaches and receiving a football offer. I don’t take any offer for granted,” Akana said. “Still so much work to be done.”
When he showed up at the Open Division state championship game between Kahuku and Saint Louis, there was a buzz.
“I loved watching my boys play for the state championship. I’m so proud of them and what they have accomplished. There is a lot of talent here in Hawaii. I always tell college coaches about the talent in Hawaii. They are special! It’s great to see them succeed in high school and at the next level,” Akana said.
Akana played multiple positions, including running back, as a sophomore at Wasatch. That provided an unforgettable video of Akana stiff-arming a potential tackler as he scored a touchdown. Watching Kahuku employ its best talent on both sides of the ball is something that would be alluring. Liona Lefau, one of Kahuku’s playmakers, had a lot of fun as a two-way contributor.
“Liona can play both sides of the football. He’s a vicious defender, but very talented at catching and scoring touchdowns. Liona can do it all. I’m so happy for him and his success,” Akana said.
His father, Brandyn Akana, coaches basketball at Kahuku, which is ranked No. 7 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. A year ago, Tausili Akana sent a video to coaches of him dribbling from the wing and dunking, just for fun.
“I decided not to play basketball this season. I’m going to focus on football this offseason. I need to get ready for my final year of football. There are a lot of areas that I can improve on,” Akana said. “I need to get stronger and heavier at my position. Also, I need to improve my speed. The plan is to finish up this school year at Skyridge. I plan to graduate early in December.”
A high-flying 6-4, 225-pound athlete, practically a blur on the hardwood at Kahuku would have been a sight.
“Playing hoops for my dad at Kahuku has always been a dream of mine. It was a tough decision for me. Our family has had long conversations about this. My dad had to put on his dad hat instead of his basketball coaching hat,” Akana said. “He supports me focusing on football during this offseason. This will allow me to be ready for the next level.”
With that, Tausili Akana did what most teenagers would do on a sunny afternoon in the islands. He hit the beach.
“The beach has been great. The weather finally cleared and the sun is out. I’m loving it. Right now in Utah, it’s 20 degrees with snow,” Akana said. “I do miss home. If it wasn’t for COVID, I would have stayed and played high school football in Hawaii. I’m grateful for my family, for all their support. They have been amazing. it’s great to be home with my younger brother and two older sisters, and my extended family. I miss them a lot.”
His sisters, former All-State Fab 15 volleyball players at Kamehameha, have been busy. Oldest sister Braelyn Akana just finished her sophomore season as a outside hitter/middle blocker at Hawaii. Sister Keonilei Akana, a libero, completed her freshman season at Nebraska, which reached the NCAA championship match. Their mother, Joselyn (Robins) Akana, was a standout player at Hawaii.
Tausili Akana, Skyridge (Utah), OLB, 6-4, 225
Arizona State 6/30/20
Oregon State 9/8/20
Utah State 9/14/20
Oklahoma State 11/16/20
Washington State 12/25/20
Ole Miss 3/3/21
Mississippi State 5/27/21
Texas A&M 6/5/21
Ohio State 6/9/21
San Diego State 6/11/21
Penn State 11/11/21
Texas Tech 11/18/21
Michigan State 11/23/21
Jackson State 1/4/22