Q&A: Kahuku DL Samson Reed

Kahuku defensive end Samson Reed, a Virginia commit, leads the Red Raiders into a nationally top-25 showdown on Saturday against Bingham (Utah) on Saturday in Las Vegas. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

He works constantly in the classroom, the weight room and the gridiron, but Samson Reed saves the intensity for battle.

In the classroom, Reed has a 3.6 grade-point average. On the field, he is a defensive lineman who is a big key to Kahuku’s 4-0 start and top-25 national ranking. Here is the Q&A by Reed, who was the prep feature in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Samson Reed
Kahuku football
6-3, 264, Sr.

Favorites / Q & A

Athlete: James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
“Last year our coach wanted him to be the standard of our team. He’s a hard worker on the field, works hard in the weight room. At his size, he does a lot. Watching his lifting videos during meetings is amazing. He has that drive.”

Team: Seattle Seahawks.
“My cousin (Elijah Tagoai) first came over to live with us in Kahuku, and he’s from Seattle. We weren’t really big NFL fans, but ever since we started watching the Seahawks, I was seventh grade, 2011 or ’12.”

Food (at home): Laulau, kalua pig and poke.
“Sometimes my dad (Tanoai Reed) makes it, or we go to Tamura’s Market and get kalua pig and poke from there. If he has time and he’s not busy, he’ll make it from scratch.”

Food (eating out): Laie Chop Suey.
“Minute chicken on cake noodle, and cold ginger chicken.”

Hobby: Going across the street to the beach.
“Kekela Beach Park. I moved out here from California in 2012. My back yard is the mountain and in front is the beach. My dad’s from Kahuku, graduated from there. My mom (Suzanne Turbeville) is from Makaha side, but went to Kamehameha. My mom wanted me to go, but the reason we moved here is so I can go to Kahuku, experience our family here on this side. It’s just good being in the community, they welcome you like family.”

Where in California did you live?
“Newburry Park. That’s close by LA. My dad kinda of always had a plan to come back home. It was kind of a surprise. The first year was kind of new to me, but after that was really fun because of all my cousins and friends, and playing football.”

Movie: Goonies.
“My dad is a big movie collector since he works in them. He just likes it. It’s a bunch of kids, going out on adventures. It’s a good family movie.”

TV show: Brotown.
“They cancelled it a long time ago. It was a Polynesian show about two Samoan kids, two Tongan kids, a Maori kid and they always get into trouble and have adventures together. It was pretty funny. I think it might’ve had two seasons.”

Music artist: Katchafire.
“They play ‘Seriously.’ Every time we do a barbecue as a kid I remember this song playing. No matter where we went, my dad always made it as Hawaiian as possible with Hawaiian music, reggae music. He kept the tone.”

Teacher, elementary school: Mr. Hudema.
“He was just a really cool teacher. It was a small school and he was also the principal. He was a really fun guy. We did a lot of sports. He helped out with the basketball and football team.”

GPA: 3.6.
“My mom is always pushing me about grades. My dad reinforces that. Everyone starts out with an A at the beginning of the year. Maintaining the A is the key.”

Class: Math.
“Right now, I’m taking trigonometry and it’s fun. I have a couple of friends in the class and we’re challenging each other for who gets the best grade. I like the challenge. It might have been my parents. My dad liked math in high school and my grandfather (Louis Turbeville) on my mom’s side was a math teacher at Waianae High school.”

Place to relax: On our hammock.
“It’s in the front yard under the ulu trees and one coconut tree.”

What coach says:
“(Former) Coach Vae (Tata) said a lot of memorable sayings, but the best was, ‘You’re either getting better or getting worse. Nothing stays the same.’ ”

How do you handle a busy schedule?
“During the season, I’m a lot busier and have to make my schedule so that I’m able to manage my time. Off season is my time to get bigger, stronger, faster.”

What does it take to get bigger?
“My dad is always trying to feed me. Like this summer, you’re going to eat even when you’re tired of eating. I ate three regular meals a day, then lots of snacks, and at night before I go to bed, I drink a protein shake.”

Did it work?
“Oh yeah, during the summer I was 240. At the very end I was 260. At the beginning of summer, I was bench pressing probably 275, 10 reps. At the end of summer, I was doing 335 eight times.

Do you have a goal for your weight?
“At the end of the school year, going up to Virginia, I want to be 270, good weight not sloppy weight.”

Any dietary restrictions?
“My dad is not too strict, but mainly white meat (chicken breast and fish), some steak.”

What’s the cardio in the offseason?
“In Atlanta, I would alternate. One day, DL stuff, short bursts. Other days, run one mile or 12 220s.”

What schools did you attend: Maple Elementary, then Kahuku Elementary and Intermediate.

What youth teams did you play for: Newburry Park Steelers, then Laie Park Raiders.
“The difference is competitiveness and size. At Newburry Park we had a few big kids, if we win or lose, it’s the same. At Laie, you have to lift, run, work hard to earn your position. A lot of talent goes out of Laie and the community is around that park over there.

What’s the history of your family tree?
“My great-great-grandfather (Tautua Tanoai) came to Laie on a boat from Samoa to help build the temple. My grandfather and my dad also went to Kahuku, so I’m a third-generation Red Raider.”

You mentioned that your father has a lot of stories about living with his grandmother.
“He moved with his parents to the mainland. Then they moved him back to Hawaii to live with her. He has a lot of stories about her. He learned the Polynesian side there. He’s really grateful he got to live with her.”

Kahuku football. Is it exactly what you expected?
“Oh yeah, I heard plenty of stories. Even in California, I watched Kahuku games when they were streaming live and I wore my Kahuku T-shirts. The first game I remember was the 2012 (state) championship. I think it’s what I expected, kind of. Football is a big thing, it’s a big sport. Every summer we’d visit my great-grandma out here.

What’s different from what you expected?
“I didn’t really have any other expectations. What really surprised me is how close everyone in the community is. In California, we had neighbors but we never really knew them at all. Here, you see your aunties and uncles and cousins, they all know each other. It’s a tight community.”

Tamasese is your middle name?
“Yeah, it’s my middle name. I’m not sure what it means, I gotta find out.

Kahuku football this year, ranked No. 2, huge expectations as always.
“We take care of each other, don’t worry about anything outside and trust the guys in our room.”

D-Line life
“I’m mostly right side. This is more recent. Big Boys, I played nose. The last three years were end. I think I got faster, grew a lot more and leaned out, so they put me at end. A lot of the pass rush is just one-on-one battles, me trying to get to the quarterback.”

Who’s the toughest lineman you ever went up against?
“Probably (former Kahuku player) Vili Fisiiahi. He was always the toughest and he played D-line, too, so he knew what D-linemen like to do. He likes shoot his hands and pull them back. You’re putting them in the direction you want them to go, and they switching it.”

Do people double-team you?
“Oh yeah, I’ve had that a lot. I try to break them apart, move them to different levels. It’s always going to be a little bit frustrating, but it makes that one time they mess up, you get through and make the sack, you feel a whole lot better.”

Favorite game?
“Not really. A few years ago in the championship game against Saint Louis, and last year against Kapolei in the OIA championship, those were fun.”

College recruiting
“I just wanted to weigh my options until the right school comes, and Virginia is a great school. Coach (Bronco) Mendenhall said, don’t just commit. Weigh your options, commit to your school and they’ll commit to you. My dad was working up in Atlanta, and we went to a camp at Virginia. My dad was pretty surprised. That’s a long way from home, putting a lot of trust in me. If you’re going to go off the island, you might as well go as far as you want.”

* * * * *

He has lived in different parts of the country, and will embark on a new chapter after graduation.

For now, Samson Reed is in the sweet spot, enjoying senior year at Kahuku High School. Really enjoying senior year through all the hours of studying, training and playing. At 6-foot-3, 264 pounds, he is one of the top defensive linemen in the state, an explosive pass rusher and stout enough to contain in the trenches. That is one of the many big reasons why Kahuku (4-0, 3-0 OIA) is ranked No. 2 in the Star-Advertiser Football Top 10, and No. 23 nationally in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings.

“His motor is no question,” Moanalua coach Savaii Eselu said. “He will definitely continue to push it to the limit. It’s like he knows only one speed.”

Moanalua was one of the two teams that managed to score on Kahuku’s defense in a 40-6 loss. Reed can line up on the edge and in the gaps at the point of attack. That versatility will help any team, including one at the next level. Reed committed to Virginia in late June.

“There’s always much to learn on any level, especially in the trenches. There’s always different skills and techniques,” said Eselu, who played offense and defense at Moanalua before playing tight end at Cal. “I’ll tell you one thing, he’s a big body who can occupy a lot of space. He’s pretty powerful on the strike. He’s like a typical Kahuku player who never gives up and will help out along the way if he can stay healthy.”

Red Raiders head coach Makoa Freitas knows the trenches well. After being selected to the Star-Bulletin All-State team as an offensive lineman at Kamehameha, he played at Arizona, and then was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts.

“You definitely would have to account for him with your pass protection schemes. You want to be sure you have your best offensive linemen with him. When you face a guy like him, you have to focus on all the little things, otherwise you won’t stand a chance,” Freitas said.

Freitas paused on one question: How would Reed fare as an offensive lineman?

“He would make a great offensive lineman. He’s constantly working on those little things,” Freitas said.

There won’t be any switches, of course. Reed just what his team needs at the 3-technique, powerful, versatile and tireless. Reed has trained hard from the day he moved to the islands. That includes constant weight-room work — and eating — during the summer, alongside his dad, Tanoai Reed. He increased his bench press numbers from 275 to 335. He also bulked up from 240 pounds to his current 264. The added strength and bulk are just what defensive line coach Matt Faga hoped for.

“I wanted Samson to master every position on the defensive line. He will play some inside and outside. Inside is where all the action is at. The double team, the scoop block, the trap. I wanted him at a weight where he can handle all those different types of blocking schemes,” Faga said. “He has progressed a lot in many areas. One in specific is his hands. He’s an explosive player, no doubt, but being explosive, and having hand coordination and seeing the blocks are a deadline combination.”

Faga, a former Kaimuki standout who played at Hawaii, has a comparison.

“It would be Solomon Thomas of the 49ers. Both have an itch for the ball, and both have such great motors. Samson has gotten better every day, and he always makes sure everyone around him is getting greater,” Faga said.

Reed’s father commutes between Oahu and the continent in his work as a stuntman in the film industry, most famously for being Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s stunt double. The family moved to Kahuku, Tanoai’s hometown, in 2012.

“Our community is special and I wanted to give him an opportunity to return some day with his family. Samson is a third-generation Red Raider and he’s a much better football player than I was,” he said. “He is a very humble, respectful and big-hearted young man. Although he’s a very hard worker, he has a very laid-back personality,” Tanoai said. “I’ve never seen him mad or upset about anything. He’s made parenting very easy for my wife (Suzanne) and I. I’m amazed he’s not a hard head like I was.”

As for some family history, Samson’s middle name, Tamasese, was chosen by his great-grandmother — the one who took Tanoai in when Tanoai relocated from the mainland back to Kahuku.

“His middle name was given to him by my grandmother Vaita‘i, who raised me in Hawaii. Tupua Tamasese Titimaea was a king in Samoa who we are related to,” Tanoai said.

As for the trek from the South Pacific to Oahu’s North Shore, Tanoai filled in with more info.

“My great-grandfather, Tautua Tuala Tanoai, came to Laie in 1920 as a labor missionary to help finish the building of the (Mormon) temple. He and several of his cousins were among the first migrants from Samoa to settle in Laie.”

Virginia is in the next chapter of Samson Reed’s football career.

“Yes, Virginia is on the other side of the country and it’s a huge commitment to start a new chapter in his life that far away,” Tanoai said. “I believe he’ll grow so much more away from home and out of his comfort zone. There are some great coaches and mentors at UVa, and I know they will take care of him and prepare him for a successful life after he graduates. I always told him, when you fly the next, don’t land at the roots. Spread those wings and soar! He is doing just that.”


  1. Education First September 5, 2017 12:50 pm

    So much for my theory about Kahuku not producing scholar athletes. Reed has more going on than most of the “mercenaries” Punahou is bringing in just to prop up their team rosters. Props to the young man and his family.

  2. thomas September 5, 2017 6:10 pm

    Education first…..stfu!

  3. Hau'ulaBoy September 5, 2017 7:51 pm

    Great story on someone who represents what this community is all about. His family, his dad and the roots that we are all very proud of. If your not from their its hard to understand and to some it may seem to rub the wrong way. But we take pride in every kid that comes out of this community because we all uderstand what its like to be from Kahuku. Some dont like us, but all learn to respect us. RR4L._.

  4. Greg English September 6, 2017 8:51 am

    We are looking forward to seeing him at UVA. Of course, he will be a malehini here.

  5. Education First September 6, 2017 1:27 pm

    Education First September 5, 2017 12:50 pm
    So much for my theory about Kahuku not producing scholar athletes. Reed has more going on than most of the “mercenaries” Punahou is bringing in just to prop up their team rosters. Props to the young man and his family.

    First of all this is not me. It seems I have a lot of fans. And I get it. Since you cannot be me, you need to copycat me.

    Well thank you.

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