Spring football: Hawaii-bred boys bring it

Cal’s Semisi Uluave, a Punahou graduate, is a singing Bear. Dennis Oda / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Lots of former Hawaii high school football players are making their way in college on the mainland.

Recently, we ran a story with tidbits from various websites on how many of the players from the Hawaii recruiting class of 2016 fared this year in their first spring practices prior to their second college seasons. (Most of them did not attend spring practice before their first college seasons because they were still seniors in high school).

Now, in this second installment, we give you more news, comments and blurbs, this time mostly about the players who entered college in 2015 and earlier or, in the case of two individuals, (Mikey Minihan and Adam Stack), players who enrolled this spring after graduating high school early. Here we go:

MIKEY MINIHAN, Georgia Tech offensive lineman

(Saint Louis, Class of 2017)

>> From AJC.com: “Georgia Tech added a personal touch when recruiting offensive lineman Mikey Minihan. Before the 3-star offensive guard from Hawaii completed his senior season at Saint Louis School, Minihan received handwritten letters from Georgia Tech’s coaching staff. ‘I remember a couple weeks before I committed, I got handwritten letters every week from every coach on the (Georgia Tech) staff,’ Minihan said. ‘That was a big plus for me because coaches were taking time out of their days to write me handwritten letters. I just really appreciate that.’ The most memorable letter Minihan received was from offensive line coach Mike Sewak and co-offensive line coach Ron West before Minihan and the Crusaders beat Kahuku 30-14 in the state championship game. ‘They just gave me encouragement and all that stuff. It was my favorite letter.’ ”

SEMISI ULUAVE, Cal offensive lineman

(Punahou, Class of 2015)

>> From Scout.com: “Linebacker Ray Davison, linebacker Cameron Saffle and Uluave have formed a musical group of sorts. Uluave, who has taken snaps at guard, tackle and center this spring, was the latest to join in their exploits. Uluave has some under-the-radar musical skill, having starred in a production of ‘Oklahoma!’ in high school. ‘Everybody on my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family, when we get together, it’s always what they call in Hawaii a kani ka pila – just a party,’ Uluave said. ‘Everybody busts out the ukulele, guitars, whatever instruments they have, bongo drums, and we just jam the night away. From there, I just picked it up, and fell in love with singing.’ Uluave also performed in ‘Anything Goes’ as a junior at Punahou, and ‘The Pajama Game,’ as a senior. He also participated in ‘Chorale,’ traveling to Boston and New York, seeing Harvard and Yale.”

MATT MARIOTA, Oregon tight end

(Saint Louis, Class of 2015)

>> From Oregon 247sports.com: “This spring Mariota has made the move from linebacker, where he played his first two seasons at Oregon, to tight end. The move has been of mutual benefit for the sophomore and Oregon, as it was Mariota’s choice to move to the side of the ball his brother Marcus starred on, and because the Ducks are awfully thin at the position. ‘My brother is a huge offensive influence,’ he said. ‘Watching him over the years, I kind of picked up on the offense, certain things. I think it was just easy for me to come over and something I wanted to do. I think my strengths are in my route running. I’m working on my blocking as best as I can, but right now I would say route running and trying to get open for the quarterback.’ This spring has been a big success in Mariota’s eyes. He considers this to be the case on both an individual level and a team level. ‘I think it went well. It went well for everyone,’ he said. ‘We all got better as a team. It was a lot of learning opportunities (for me), especially in terms of blocking.’ ”

TITUS FAILAUGA, Oregon State linebacker

(Mid-Pacific, Class of 2013)

>> From OregonLive.com: “Armed with a three-pronged spear, Titus Failauga used to wade into the water as many as three times per week in his native Hawaii in search of uhu (parrotfish). ‘It’s probably the best tasting fish in Hawaii,’ he said. Failauga’s uncle taught him spearfishing when the linebacker was still in middle school. Face in the water, peering through his goggles, breathing through a snorkel, Failauga tracked his target until it was time to fully submerge himself in the sea and fire the spear through his catch. ‘You wrap the band around your arm and you pull the spear back so when you let go, it shoots forward,’ he said. ‘You got to hold your breath as long as it takes you to get that pinpoint to ready your spear onto the fish. It’s like a mental state. How bad do you want the fish?’ The hobby helped teach Failauga the value of commitment and patience. The former was on display during spring practice when he felt a nagging pain in his foot, while the latter took a back seat. A slimmed down Failauga, who started six games at defensive end last season and has since converted to outside linebacker, tried to push through the pain so he could gain valuable reps at the new position. Instead, he aggravated the injury and missed a majority of the team’s 15 practice sessions. ‘I should have laid off,’ he said. ‘But I really wanted to be on the field.’ The desire to get on the field was understandable, given that Failauga will be playing a position that will be one of the most important spots on a retooled OSU defense.”

HERCULES MATA’AFA, Washington State defensive lineman

(Lahainaluna, Class of 2014)

>> From KHQ.com: Defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa has been named to the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy, The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation announced. Named after Pro Football Hall of Fame member Ronnie Lott, The Lott IMPACT Trophy is awarded to college football’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Mata’afa, a junior, is a two-time All-Pac-12 Conference selection, earning second-teams honors last season after finishing fifth in the league with 13.5 tackles-for-loss including a team-high five sacks. He also received Freshman All-American accolades in 2015 after making 11 tackles-for-loss with seven sacks.”

BREIDEN FEHOKO, LSU defensive lineman

(Farrington, Class of 2015)

>> From GridironNow.com: “Two former Texas Tech starters, defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko and wide receiver Jonathan Giles, left Lubbock and transferred to LSU. ‘It’s pretty odd,’ said Will McKay, who covers Texas Tech for RedRaiderSports.com, said on 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge, ‘especially considering those are two of your guys that you’d put in your top seven or eight guys as far as contributors.’ Fehoko started every game during his two seasons in Lubbock. Giles led the pass-happy Red Raiders last season in receptions (69), receiving yards (1,158) and receiving touchdowns (13). ‘There were some rumblings with Fehoko that he wasn’t real happy with how he was being used and his role on the defensive line,’ said McKay, who pointed out that Fehoko was being used more to occupy blockers than to make plays. McKay also noted that Fehoko’s brother, Stan, was a grad assistant at Texas Tech that was released in December and that that decision may have played into it. ‘It’s a weird deal,’ he added, ‘but when you start connecting the dots, it starts making sense with both guys.’ Both players will sit out 2017 under NCAA transfer rules, then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.”


(Kahuku, Class of 2013)

>> From DeseretNews.com: “Said middle linebacker Butch Pau’a – ‘A lot of the young guys looked good. We had a lot of the linebackers rotating in. Johnny Tapusoa, they moved him to the Mike position, and he looks good at that position. We had some younger returned missionaries play, and they performed well. With time, we’ll get better.’ ”

JOSH POKRAKA, Arizona State tight end

(Kaiser, Class of 2014)

>> From Scout.com: “The best reps of the tight end group came from senior Christian Hill and walk-ons Frank Ogas and Josh Pokraka, who all managed to put someone on the ground.”

KANAWAI NOA, Cal wide receiver

(Punahou, Class of 2015)

>> From DailyCal.org: “Redshirt sophomore receiver Kanawai Noa looked dynamic throughout the day in the spring game.”

LYLE TUILOMA, Colorado defensive tackle

(Nanakuli, Class of 2015)

>> From RalphieReport.com: “In the spring game, both lines seemed pretty evenly matched, and you can tell that the hogs have gotten bigger since the last time we saw them. Lyle Tuiloma looked large and in charge for a while doing the drills.”

SHAUN KAGAWA, Georgia Tech defensive back

(Kamehameha-Hawaii, Class of 2013)

>> From MyAJC.com: “ ‘When I first got here I think we went over a lot of material,’ Kagawa, a senior safety, said. ‘We put in a lot of blitzes, we did a lot of concepts scheme-wise. I think by scaling it back, we’re able to concentrate more on our weaknesses, in a sense, and our strengths, so when we get to a season, we’ll be able to see what those strengths were when we look back to the spring.’ ”

>> From Macon.com: “Those making progress this spring have included Shaun Kagawa, who could add depth to the group of defensive backs.”

ALOHI GILMAN, Navy safety

(Kahuku, Class of 2015)

>> From CapitalGazette.com: “The good news is that Navy has five defensive backs that saw significant action coming back in 2017. Alohi Gilman was named ECAC rookie of the year after a solid freshman season that saw him start eight games at free safety and two at strong safety.”

ADAM TAGOVAILOA-AMOSA,Navy offensive lineman

(Campbell, Class of 2014)

>> From CapitalGazette.com: “Ford Higgins overtook current sophomore Adam Amosa-Tagovailoa for the backup job at right tackle over the course of this spring.”

KALEI MEYER, Nevada defensive lineman

(Kamehameha, Class of 2014)

>> From RGJ.com: “Kalei Meyer has been a rotation player at nose guard the last two seasons at Nevada. He has 19 career tackles, including 0.5 for loss. He’ll have to fight for consistent game reps.”

KALEI AUELUA, New Mexico State defensive lineman

(Saint Louis, Class of 2012)

>> From LCSun.com: “Kalei Auelua is retiring from football after missing last year due to an injury.”

DYLAN KANE, Oregon wide receiver

(Kamehameha, Class of 2015)

>> From StatesmanJournal.com: “Dylan Kane did not play in the spring game due to an injury.”

KAULANA APELU, Oregon linebacker

(Kamehameha, Class of 2015)

>> From RegisterGuard.com: “Coaches were impressed with junior Kaulana Apelu’s hustle to the ball throughout the 15 practice opportunities.”

REX MANU, Oregon defensive lineman

(Mililani, Class of 2015)

>> From OregonLive.com: “Potential first-teamer Rex Manu missed the entire spring while rehabbing a knee injury.”

ADAM STACK, Oregon kicker

(Kamehameha, Class of 2017)

>> From StatesmanJournal.com: “Adam Stack missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt in the spring game.”

TULI WILY-MATAGI, Oregon State tight end

(Kahuku, Class of 2015)

>> From BuildingTheDam.com: “The Beavers should still be set at tight end without Josh Robinett, who is transferring. They return sophomores Noah Togiai and Tuli Wily-Matagi.”

LAMONE WILLIAMS, Oregon State defensive end

(Kahuku, Class of 2014)

>> From KGW.com: “LaMone Williams was slated for limied spring action due to a knee injury.”

ALLAN CUI III, UNLV wide receiver

(Saint Louis, Class of 2015)

>> From ReviewJournal.com: “Allan Cui is one of several receivers who could see snaps and add depth in case the Rebels get another rash of injuries.”

SALANOA ALO-WILY, UNLV defensive lineman

(Kahuku, Class of 2015)

>> From MWconnection.com: “Salanoa-Alo Wily earned playing time early and often at the defensive tackle position as a freshman in 2015. Last season he was assigned starting duties for the Rebels and was on the field for all 12 games. Wily will be critical to the defensive success of the Rebels in 2017. He’s athletic and brings good size to the Rebels at 6-foot, 290 pounds. With 24 games at UNLV under his belt, perhaps most important is the veteran presence he brings to the Rebels.”

KJ ULUAVE, Utah State offensive lineman

(Kahuku, Class of 2011)

>> From DeseretNews.com: “ ‘With the offensive line losing three starters and four seniors from a year ago, this is a big year for us, and we really need to go to work this spring,’ said second-year offensive line coach Steve Farmer. ‘The biggest thing for this group is to develop some leadership. KJ (Uluave) and Preston (Brooksby) have done a great job leading the group thus far, but there is a lot of work to be done.’ ”

VILLIAMU McMOORE, Utah State offensive lineman

(Kapolei, Class of 2015)

>> From DeseretNews.com: “Utah State welcomes back four offensive linemen who redshirted last season in junior Sean Taylor, as well as freshmen Demytrick Ali’ifua, Villiamu McMoore and Ty Shaw.”

KINGSTON FERNANDEZ, Washington State defensive lineman

(Kapolei, Class of 2014)

>> From YakimaHerald.com: “The Cougars have seen the emergence of a surprising defensive-tackle candidate: redshirt junior Kingston Fernandez. Fernandez (6 feet 2, 262 pounds) played in six games last season, almost exclusively on special teams. But he’s blossomed at tackle this offseason, according to his line coach.”

MICAH KAPOI, Wisconsin offensive lineman

(Kapolei, Class of 2014)

>> LandOf10.com: “Wisconsin is solid on the inside of the line. If it’s Jon Dietzen at left guard, Michael Deiter at center and Beau Benzschawel at right guard, with junior Micah Kapoi and Tyler Biadasz as the main backups, they’ll be in good shape.”

TIM KAMANA, Wyoming defensive back

(Punahou, Class of 2012)

>> From County10.com: “Wyoming announced that five players are being suspended temporarily from the team for violation of team rules. Those five players being temporarily suspended are: redshirt freshman running back Mike Green II; junior cornerback Antonio Hull; senior free safety Tim Kamana; redshirt freshman linebacker Adrian King; and junior linebacker Chavez Pownell Jr.”


>> Calen Holt (Kamehameha Class of 2014), Army junior linebacker
>> Jaisen Sanchez (Saint Louis, Class of 2014), Colorado junior defensive back
>> Isi Holani (Hilo, Class of 2014), Kansas senior defensive tackle
>> Max Wren (Kapolei, Class of 2013), New Mexico State senior punter
>> Chad Hanaoka (‘Iolani, Class of 2014), Northwestern senior running back
>> Manase Hungalu (Kealakehe, Class of 2013), Oregon State senior linebacker
>> Ronley Lakalaka (Punahou, Class of 2015), San Diego State junior linebacker
>> Dakota Turner (Mililani, Class of 2013), San Diego State senior fullback/linebacker
>> Christian Clapp (Kaiser, Class of 2013), UNLV senior wide receiver
>> Kyler O’Halloran (Kealakehe, Class of 2013), UNLV senior linebacker
>> Nathaniel Oishi (‘Iolani, Class of 2015), UNLV junior offensive lineman
>> Kavika Laufatasaga (Farrington, Class of 2013), Utah senior linebacker
>> Kainoa Wilson (Mililani, Class of 2015), Washington State sophomore wide receiver


  1. Eastside4Life May 25, 2017 10:04 pm

    How can you miss Scott Pagano!! The Hawaii High School standout who won a National Championship!!!!! He should have been one the top Hawaii players to talk about….

  2. bumbuchas May 26, 2017 5:40 am

    I winch at some of the negative news on some of the players; ex. suspensions.

  3. Education First May 26, 2017 10:41 am

    Uluave is indeed a man for all seasons. Great to see such well rounded men and women coming up from Hawaii’s prep ranks. Never played HS sports but did perform in multiple talent contest as a singer growing up so I sort of relate. My “go to” song was Backstreet Boy’s “Larger than Life”. Great times!

  4. Education First May 26, 2017 10:46 am

    You “winch” at some of the negative news? What are you doing while you’re reading, lifting up your pet pig and best friend with a rope and pulley?

  5. BG Grad May 27, 2017 9:23 am

    1. a hauling or lifting device consisting of a rope, cable, or chain winding around a horizontal rotating drum, turned by a crank or by motor or other power source; a windlass.
    2. the crank of a wheel or axle.
    1. hoist or haul with a winch.”

    1. give a slight involuntary grimace or shrinking movement of the body out of or in anticipation of pain or distress.
    “he winced at the disgust in her voice”

    So, bumbucha. which is it?

  6. bumbuchas May 27, 2017 12:48 pm

    Glad you use the dictionary, now the readers know, figure it out.

  7. Mahatma Gandhi May 28, 2017 5:58 am

    I saw the Cal spring game on cable. The color man Yogi Roth pointed out “Kanawai Noa” as being a player to watch before the first snap. Never mentioned the other Hawaii WR now at Cal, Drew Kobayashi.
    The same guy said ex-St Louis recruit Jordan Iosefa is locked in a battle with another player for one of USC’s starting LB positions.

  8. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate May 28, 2017 5:58 am

    i winch at da thougt of useing a dictionary

  9. BG Grad May 28, 2017 9:38 am

    “bumbuchas May 26, 2017 at 5:40 am
    I winch at some of the negative news on some of the players; ex. suspensions.”

    “bumbuchas May 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm
    Glad you use the dictionary, now the readers know, figure it out.”

    obviously, bumbuchas thinks it’s “winch.” it’s cool, though. hopefully you learned something about the english language today

  10. Jeezy33 May 28, 2017 1:00 pm

    @Bg grad you are education first so stopping being a wanna be BG.

  11. Education First May 28, 2017 2:38 pm

    I’m not BG. BG just cut and paste dictionary excerpt only after I pointed out the misuse of the word “winch”. He’s an Education First wannabe. Me and my Kim had a good laugh though! BG however seems like a loner who creeps the message board with various other screen names.

    BTW, is Pagano at Oregon now?

  12. Education First May 28, 2017 2:40 pm

    Sorry meant to say “mom” instead of Kim. Spell check fart!

  13. BG Grad May 29, 2017 5:11 pm

    Jeezy, if you were smart you would pick up than education first and myself write in different ways and have different voice in writing. sorry that you can’t pick that up. but then again, you do come from a school that we smash both on the football field and in the classroom, so…..

  14. Jeezy33 May 30, 2017 10:23 am

    @BG wannabe. Why would a bg grad be on here. So what if your wannabe school can beat us in football at least we don’t recruit around the nation just to win. I’m a proud iolani grad and I’m a winner in life unlike being a wanna be.

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