The University of Hawaii football team yesterday received a defensive boost from one of the best junior-college programs in California, securing commitments from cornerback Jean Elise and nose tackle Matt Tupuola of El Camino College in Torrance.
Elise, who is 5 feet 9 and 180 pounds, can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds, El Camino head coach John Featherstone said.
"Hes a very good cover guy," Featherstone said.
Elise will have three years to play two seasons at UH.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Tupuola did not play last season because of personal problems. But in 1999, he was named to the all-state team. Seventy community colleges play football in California.
"Hes extremely strong and very smart," Featherstone said of Tupuola. "He has a great feel for (defending) screens and draws."
As a junior-college sophomore, Tupuola made three interceptions. "How many nose tackles can do that?" Featherstone said. Tupuola also lettered in volleyball in high school.
Last year, El Camino won the Mission Conference championship and finished No. 2 in the state and No. 6 nationally.
El Camino also has deep ties with Hawaii. Featherstone said he had a strong working relationship with Dick Tomey and Bob Wagner, when both were UH head coaches, and now with UH head coach June Jones, associate head coach George Lumpkin and assistant coach Rich Miano.
At El Camino, Elises position coach was Vincent Sides, a former UH defensive back.
Elise and Tupuola also have relatives and friends in Hawaii. Both players will be reunited with former El Camino defensive end Hiram Travis, who signed with the Warriors last month and currently is taking classes at Manoa. Travis will participate in next months spring practice; Elise and Tupuola will enroll at UH in August.