Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Talented trio paces Hawaii's stellar '15 class
By Erik McKinney
It doesn’t take much to convince college coaches to head out to Hawaii for recruiting purposes. It’ll take even less to get them out there this fall to scour the 2015 talent on the islands.
Four big men find themselves in the 2015 ESPN 300, with three among the top 102 players in the nation. But that isn’t the only thing that links them.
Defensive ends Canton Kaumatule (Honolulu/Punahou) and Breiden Fehoko (Honolulu/Farrington) and offensive guard Fred Ulu-Perry (Honolulu/St. Louis) have been connected for years since playing little league football together in middle school. Now all three hold multiple offers and will wind up as some of the more highly recruited players in the region, but even back then it was easy to see where they were headed.
“Since that time, we knew we’d be big-time prospects,” Fehoko said. “Our game split apart from everybody else and we could tell we were going to do something big.”
“Something big” for Fehoko -- the No. 102 player in the country -- consisted partly of traveling to Alabama this summer and scoring an offer from the Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-2, 269-pound defensive end adds that to offers from California, Clemson, Oklahoma, Stanford and Texas Tech, among others. Already set on graduating early, Fehoko said he won’t begin narrowing down his choices until well into his senior season.
It’s a different path than the one Kaumatule is hoping to follow. His older brother, Luke Kaumatule, is a tight end at Stanford, and if things go the way the younger Kaumatule plans, he’ll be joining him before long. The nation’s No. 52 player and No. 7 defensive end said recruiting is taking a back seat to schoolwork right now.
“I’m really striving to get to Stanford,” he said. “If I can get into Stanford, that’s where I’m going. It kind of reminds me of my high school, with the top academics and athletics. When I went to Stanford, it was really beautiful and I know the coaching staff really well. And I would love to play with my brother again. He means a lot to me.”
Kaumatule said the recruiting strategy isn’t the only place he and Fehoko differ, although they play similar positions.
“Breiden is a hardcore athlete,” Kaumatule said. “He’s super strong and really focused on football. I’m a three-sport guy (basketball and volleyball) and the way we play is different.”
Punahou and Farrington scrimmage each other every pre-season, which gives the two ends an opportunity to watch each other in action. Kaumatule said he and Breiden look for tips from each other and to add new aspects to their games every time they work out together.
It’s an advantage that isn’t afforded to Ulu-Perry, the nation’s No. 85 player and No. 7 guard, who takes the full brunt of every improvement made by the defensive linemen. He took on Fehoko in a scrimmage this past weekend and will face Kaumatule in the regular season. The again, working against such high-quality opponents has Ulu-Perry poised to become a big-time recruit in his own right this fall.
He already holds offers from Hawaii and Washington State, and is hearing from Pac-12 programs such as UCLA, USC and Washington. Like many of Hawaii’s standout recruits, Ulu-Perry will eventually have to decide whether or not to leave the islands for the mainland.
“Growing up, I always wanted to go to UH (Hawaii),” Ulu-Perry said. “It’s still one of my choices right now, but it’s good to get a good experience in the mainland. That will be a hard decision my senior year. The main reason I’d stay home would be to play in front of family like I do right now.
He, along with Fehoko, got an up-close look at Hawaii for a few years when he was younger, as Breiden’s father served as Vili the Warrior, Hawaii’s unofficial mascot. The two young linemen would often bang on the drums alongside “Vili,” pumping up the Hawaii team.
It will be very difficult for Hawaii to keep any of these players from leaving for college, but that won’t stop the community from rooting hard for the trio.
“The unique thing here is that everybody knows each other,” Kaumatule said. “We’re close friends with people from rival schools all over the island. We have barbecues and go to the beach, and exchange information on how to get better. We just want to take Hawaii football to the next level.”
Fehoko said that even though they are only juniors this season, he can feel the anticipation building as the season draws closer.
“I can feel the community on its toes for the start of the season,” he said. “I can feel the atmosphere. I can’t wait."