- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
Linebacker Koa Kaleopaa (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) has already made one big move in his life, as he made the transition from Hawaii to California before his sophomore season. He'll take as much time as he needs to make sure he’s making the right decision with the next one. It’s a right he’s earned, as schools across the country are pushing hard to sign the 6-foot-3, 250-pound linebacker.
Entering his senior season, four schools sit atop Kaleopaa’s list: Arkansas, California, Colorado and Mississippi.
“Those are the four that I’ve been keeping the most contact with,” he said. “The other schools will check in occasionally, but those four are the four I keep in touch with and I’ll probably consider one of those four.”
Kaleopaa said it is still very early in his recruiting process and he doesn’t feel close to making a decision. But he has gotten something of a feel for each school to this point.
He was able to visit Arkansas earlier this year for a junior day and came away impressed with what the Razorbacks have to offer.
“It’s an SEC team and last year they finished fifth overall,” Kaleopaa said. “It’s a great football program and they have some great academic facilities as well. I got to see all of it when I was there for a junior day. It was mindblowing.”
As for the Golden Bears, proximity will play a role, but that’s not all they have to offer.
“It’s close, so that’s a plus,” Kaleopaa said. “It’s a great school -- the No. 1 public school in the country. I’ll be looking to see how they do this year.”
La Mirada head coach Mike Moschetti played quarterback at Colorado, so it’s not a huge surprise that the Buffaloes coaches found their way to the big linebacker.
“The coaches at Colorado are very welcoming,” Kaleopaa said. “They definitely want me there. Their thing is keeping in touch with the Buff family not just for four years, but all throughout your life.”
Mississippi is something of a recent addition to his top group of schools, but the Rebels have been relentless in their pursuit of him.
“I’m looking forward to visiting there,” Kaleopaa said. “Their coach said it’s a place you can see yourself at, so I’m definitely going to have to check it out.”
Though he hasn’t scheduled any official visits at this point, Kaleopaa said he is leaning toward visiting Arkansas when it hosts Alabama, and Mississippi when it hosts Texas. California and Colorado will also receive visits, though they could happen after the season. Kaleopaa said his decision will come down to the place that he feels the most comfortable and will be excited to stay for four years. How seriously the school takes its football and academics will also play a role.