Tuesday, February 6, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Four standouts verbally commit to Warriors

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

In a late rush of quantity and quality, the University of Hawaii football team yesterday secured commitments from four standouts, including a junior college All-America defensive lineman.

All promised to put their commitments in writing tomorrow, the first day NCAA letters of intent may be signed.

Pledging their allegiance to UH are:

Defensive tackle Isaak Sopoaga, who was named a junior college All-American after amassing 31 sacks as a sophomore.

Wide receiver Omar Bennett, who returned seven kickoffs and punts for touchdowns during his junior and senior years in high school.

Brandon Eaton, an All-Houston-area offensive lineman who also is the captain of his high school baseball team.

Omega Hogan, a Houston high school quarterback who can run 100 meters in 10.6 seconds.

Sopoaga, who was born in American Samoa and played the past two years at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., is believed to be the most highly recruited player to sign with UH in several years.

Sopoaga turned down scholarship offers from Nebraska, Texas A&M and nearly every Pac-10 school, said Leon Criner, College of the Canyons’ defensive coordinator.

Sopoaga, who is 6 feet 4 and 290 pounds, has been electronically timed at 4.75 seconds over 40 yards, Criner said. Sopoaga benches 425 pounds.

"He’s not a leader by words, but by deeds," Criner said. "I can’t say enough nice things about him."

Last season, Criner said, Sopoaga played every defensive down. "Many players will take one or two plays off a game, but he never took any off," Criner said. "He’s the kind of player every coach would love to have."

Criner said Sopoaga is athletic enough to play volleyball. "He can stand flat-footed under a basket and then dunk," Criner said. "He has a great vertical jumping ability."

Bennett also was highly regarded as a Beverly Hills High senior in 1998, when he received offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Southern California, Arizona and Arizona State.

He signed with California, but decided to transfer after a semester. He played last season at Laney College in Oakland, Calif.

As a high school senior, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Bennett had 62 catches for 984 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was named to the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section all-star team 1997 and was chosen to Super Prep’s All-West team.

He can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds, and 200 meters in 22.3 seconds.

"As a person, you can’t find a better kid," Beverly Hills High coach Carter Paysinger said. "As an athlete, nobody works harder."

Eaton is an all-around athlete at Worthing High in Houston. He pitches and plays third base for the baseball team and is a starter on the basketball team.

In football, he played on both sides of the line, although he prefers to play offensive tackle. He is expected to compete at tackle for the Warriors.

Eaton, who is 6 feet 4 and 290 pounds, can run 40 yards in 4.9 seconds and bench press 350 pounds.

He received offers from Kentucky and Kansas, but decided to commit to UH after visiting last weekend.

"I love the facilities, the coaching staff and the education," Eaton said.

Hogan, who is a senior at Houston’s Aldine Senior High, was one of the city’s top quarterbacks.

In Aldine’s run-oriented option offense, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Hogan ran for more than 1,000 yards and scored 18 touchdowns last year. Hogan, who can run 40 yards in 4.3 seconds, competes in the 100-meter sprints.

At UH, he is expected to play cornerback, a switch that should pose little problem for the versatile, easy-to-adapt Hogan. Jason Hogan said his son is a computer whiz, as well as a talented musician. Hogan can play the organ, keyboard, drums and bass.

Jason Hogan said he picked his son’s name because "he was supposed to be our last child. Omega was supposed to be it."

His younger sister changed those plans.

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