One lineman, one linebacker, one defensive back.
They were the very leadership core of the Kahuku defense and now they’ll be going off on their own college paths.
On Wednesday at the Kahuku gym, they stepped up to the podium and told friends and family where they’ll be going. And then they signed their national letters of intent.
Defensive end Bradlee Anae and linebacker Hirkley Latu announced for the first time where they’ll be playing football. Safety Keala Santiago made good on his previous oral commitment to Hawaii.
“What I saw in Utah was I just fell in love with the people,” said Anae, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder. “They’re great people down there and Coach Kyle Whittingham, they’re just genuine people. They don’t beat around the bush. They tell you straight and that’s what I like, because when I get there, all I want is the truth. No people blowing smoke. I love Utah and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Anae also had offers from BYU, Oregon State, Virginia and Vanderbilt.
“My ideal position in college will actually be the outside linebacker slash D-end position,” he said. “That’s where they have me at Utah; that’s where I fit in the scheme.”
Latu will go on a two-year mission before settling into the BYU campus.
“It was a really tough decision and I had to pray hard about it,” he said. “I thought BYU was the best decision for my family and I. It really did come down to the wire.
Latu, who is 6-3 and 200 pounds, expects to play outside linebacker and also possibly some inside linebacker and safety.
“It depends on the defensive scheme,” he said. “They run a 4-3, so they’re going to see where I fit and can make a difference. They see that I can cover ground and they’ll see how my body is and how heavy I am when I come back from my mission.”
Latu also had offers from Cal, Hawaii, Oregon State, Utah, Utah State and Washington State.
Anae, Latu and Santiago were three of eight Kahuku defensive players picked to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State first team.
“I think (Hawaii) was the best fit for me,” said Santiago, the 5-11, 187-pounder who was the Star-Advertiser’s defensive player of the year for the Division I state champion Red Raiders. “With Coach Rolo (Nick Rolovich) and Coach (Kevin) Lempa coming in, they want me to play and I felt comfortable over there at my visit. I (previously) always wanted to go off-island and explore different options, but after my visit, it really opened my eyes that this is the place where I need to be.
“They see me as a strong safety. They really want me to come in and learn the system so I can play fast (soon) because they know I can do it. To me, that’s a big opportunity to go there and start playing right away, but we’ll see what happens.”
Santiago also had offers from Army, Colorado, Navy and UNLV.