SPRING FOOTBALL: Hawaii boys excel

Vavae Malepeai, the former Mililani running back who is Hawaii's all-time leading rusher, received raves for his performance in USC's spring game. Malepeai, who was injured last year, is a redshirt freshman. Krystle Marcellus / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Vavae Malepeai, the former Mililani running back who is Hawaii’s all-time leading rusher, received raves for his performance in USC’s spring game. Malepeai, who was injured last year, is a redshirt freshman. Krystle Marcellus / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The recent spring reports in Hawaii Prep World about Hawaii-bred quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama and McKenzie Milton at UCF have been highly positive.

They are not the only football players from the Hawaii recruiting class of 2016 (or in Tagovailoa’s case: early 2017) making strides this spring on the mainland. Newspaper Internet sites and other special websites have glowing reports about them. The 2016 high school graduates didn’t enroll at their respective schools until the fall, so many are going through their first college football spring sessions.

We’ve culled the news, comments and blurbs about the Hawaii (non-UH) players from the various sites. Here we go:

JORDAN TA’AMU, Ole Miss quarterback

(Pearl City, Class of 2015)

>> From RedCupRebellion.com: “Jordan Ta’amu looks like a very solid backup QB. The story going into the (spring) game was Shea Patterson and how he would look heading into his first full season running the offense, but the story coming out was his backup. Ta’amu, who recently transferred over from the New Mexico Military Institute, put on a show during extensive playing time, displaying brilliant touch on the deep ball while making frequent strikes downfield. Ta’amu stripped off his white non-contact jersey in the second half and proceeded to show impressive athleticism. He doesn’t have wheels like Patterson, but he appears athletic enough that the offensive playbook wouldn’t have to change drastically were he called upon to step in. Ta’amu’s 1-yard touchdown run with about four minutes left was the play that finally pushed the offense in front. Ta’amu, who took more reps than even Patterson, seems to have locked himself into the No. 2 quarterback job.”

JORDAN AGASIVA, Utah offensive line

(Mililani, Class of 2015)

>> From SLTrib.com: “It hurts Utah that junior college product (transfer from Pima in Tucson, Ariz.) Jordan Agasiva, who is considered a serious competitor to start this fall, isn’t at school early.”

BRADLEE ANAE, Utah defensive end

(Kahuku, Class of 2016)

>> From SLTrib.com: “Defensive end Bradlee Anae has earned praise nearly every day from (coach Kyle) Whittingham.”

SEAN AUWAE-McMOORE, Vanderbilt center

(Kapolei, Class of 2016)

>> From Scout.com: “Finding a replacement at center is the next important thing for the staff to tackle, but the good thing is, they have options. The guy to watch for is Sean Auwae-McMoore. The red-shirt freshman stood out this spring and will continue to be given every opportunity this fall to earn the starting role at center. Auwae-McMoore is a very talented guy who has enough versatility to move along the line, but he will have to continue to fight off junior Cole Hardin, who has been in the program for several years now and could be primed to play.

MICHAEL ELETISE, Arizona guard

(Kaiser, Class of 2016)

>> From Tucson.com: “Promising redshirt freshman Michael Eletise should provide an upgrade at left guard.”

JET TONER, Stanford kicker

(Class of 2016, Punahou)

>> From RuleofTree.com: “Jet Toner could very well be the one to replace Conrad Ukropina. Ukropina had a great career as the Stanford kicker and he will certainly be missed on the Farm, but Jet Toner looked very sharp today kicking the ball. He capped off the scrimmage hitting a 47-yard field goal while also hitting a 40-yarder earlier in the day. Again you don’t want to over extrapolate from a scrimmage, but in front of a crowd with plenty of music and distractions Toner nailed it. It’s hard to find him on Google because you keep getting Hewlett-Packard printer results.”

NATE HERBIG, Stanford guard

(Saint Louis, Class of 2016)

>> From MercuryNews.com: “Offensive guards Nate Herbig and Nick Wilson made the greatest strides along the offensive line (this spring). Jesse Burkett is set at center, with Nate Herbig at left guard. He has really come along.

>> Side note: while googling Herbig, we found references to Nate “Big Island” Herbig and “Nate Himbig.”

JOEY IOSEFA, USC linebacker

(Saint Louis, Class of 2016)

>> From ReignofTroy.com: “Coach Clay Helton set up an overtime scenario with the first team versus the second team, which sparked some fireworks to end practice. On second down, quarterback Sam Darnold dumped the ball out to Ronald Jones II in the flat and the running back shimmied to beat one man and was on his way to a first down gain when linebacker Jordan Iosefa punched the ball out from behind him. The defense recovered and ended practice.

>> From LATimes.com: John Houston Jr. and Jordan Iosefa are waging the only true positional battle on the defense, at middle linebacker. Houston emerged to play with the first team, though he said, ‘I don’t think anything’s secure.’ ”

VAVAE MALEPEAI, USC running back

(Mililani, Class of 2016)

>> From ReignofTroy.com: “He didn’t break out a long run or provoke oohs and aahs on every down, but Malepeai was consistently efficient during the spring game. He totaled 36 yards on eight carries, easily USC’s most prolific back on the day. He ran with purpose between the tackles and was able to continually strive for additional yards within tight quarters. Malepeai’s abilities as a combo back gives the Trojans a versatile threat alongside home run-hitting Ronald Jones II.”

>> Also from ReignofTroy.com: “Vavae Malepeai has run into a patch of good fortune this spring.
With Aca’Cedric Ware missing time due to a foot injury and Dominic Davis sidelined all spring with a concussion, Malepeai has had extra opportunities to make a strong first impression on new running backs coach Deland McCullough.
‘(Malepeai) is a very complete player. He can pass protect. He can run hard. He can run with velocity. He’s deceptively fast. He’s very strong,’ McCullough said. After drawing rave reviews from coach Clay Helton for being the driving force behind the second team’s success on the ground during USC’s first spring scrimmage Saturday, Malepeai again benefited from an injury — this time to Ronald Jones II — taking first team reps for the Trojans on Tuesday.

HANDSOME TANIELU, BYU defensive lineman

(Waianae, Class of 2010)

>> From DeseretNews.com: “Tuiaki also liked the progress of defensive linemen Tevita Mo’unga, Handsome Tanielu, Kesni Tausinga and Solomone Wolfgramm and Trajan Pili at defensive end.”

>> Side note: Tanielu, a transfer from Snow COllege (Ephraim, Utah) played in 12 games last season as a junior for BYU, starting one, and finished with 11 tackles. He also did a two-year church mission.

>> From the Deseret News last season: “In BYU’s 51-9 victory over Massachusetts, Tanielu, who normally wears No. 92, wore the No. 91 jersey of Travis Tuiloma to honor Tuiloma, a senior who saw his Cougar career end earlier this year after a knee injury against Boise State required surgery. The back of Tanielu’s jersey Saturday also included the Tuiloma nameplate.”

>> From SLTrib.com: “On the D-line, there has been good progress with Tevita Mo’unga and Handsome Tanielu as well as Kesni Tausinga.”

WAYNE TAULAPAPA, Virgina running back

(Punahou, Class of 2016)

>> From Roanoke.com: “One of the players who signed with Virginia, running back Wayne Taulapapa from Honolulu, is on a Mormon mission, which might explain the variation in the number of players who remain in the program. Taulapapa’s plans are to rejoin the Cavaliers for the 2018 season.”

NETANE MUTI, Fresno State guard

(Leilehua, Class of 2016)

>> From FresnoBee.com: “On the offensive line, only redshirt freshman Netane Muti (who transferred from Hawaii last summer) at left guard has not started a game, but he has had one of the best springs in the group.”

>> Tainoa Foster (Kamehameha), Fresno State linebacker: Redshirt freshman
>> Nilsson Gaisoa (Kailua), Washington State offensive lineman: Redshirt freshman
>> Drew Kobayashi (Saint Louis), Cal wide receiver: Redshirt freshman
>> Hirkley Latu (Kahuku), BYU linebacker/safety: On a church mission.
>> Ma’a Tanuvasa (Mililani), Boise State linebacker: Redshirt freshman

>> Caleb Chow (Class of 2016, Kamehameha), DL, recruited by Air Force
>> David Fangupo (Class of 2013 Kealakehe, Cerritos College), DT, recruited by Oregon State
>> Alema Kapoi (Class of 2016, Kamehameha), DE, recruited by Navy
>> Keoni-Kordell Makekau (Class of 2016, ‘Iolani), WR, recruited by Navy
>> Justin Matias (Class of 2016, Punahou), S, recruited by Air Force

Important note: Four players who did not graduate in 2016 are on these lists. Tanielu and Fangupo transferred from junior colleges to D-I programs for the ’16 season. Agasiva and Ta’amu transferred to D-I programs for the ’17 season and are preparing to play this fall. In the near future, Hawaii Prep World plans to take a look at how other Hawaii players from earlier recruiting classes, some of who have been starters or role players already, are measuring up this spring.


  1. Kaniala April 26, 2017 9:48 am

    Kanewai Noa had a 100 yd Spring Game. And Joey was from Samoa. Jordan was from Waipahu and St Louis.

  2. Crusader4Life April 26, 2017 3:15 pm

    Allan Cui III (class of 2015) WR, UNLV
    3-57 yds 1 TD. 2017 UNLV Spring Football Game.

  3. AOK April 26, 2017 8:40 pm

    Good stuff good to know how our local boys do on mainland keep it up

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