Wednesday, February 7, 2001
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Updated at 3:11 p.m., February 7, 2001

High school seniors sign football contracts

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Sports Writer

Claiming all of his football team’s recruiting needs were fulfilled, University of Hawai‘i coach June Jones spent today — the first day high school seniors may sign binding NCAA letters of intent — waiting for faxed copies of the scholarship contracts.

“If everything comes in, this will be a very good recruiting class,” said Jones, who will give a full assessment at a news conference tomorrow.

Jones declined to identify the players who sent letters.

But The Advertiser learned that 17 players who verbally committed either signed letters or sent UH signed faxed copies. Three other recruits — defensive end Hiram Travis of El Camino College, linebacker Donny Faaliliu of Los Angeles Harbor College and offensive lineman Mike Holt of Grand Rapids College — signed scholarship agreements last month and already are enrolled at UH.

Defensive tackle Isaak Sopoaga, who was named a junior college All-America after amassing 31 sacks last year at the College of the Canyons, sent a fax of his letter of intent this morning.

Sopoaga, who turned down an offer from Nebraska, is considered the jewel of this recruiting class.

Also, running back Mike Bass, who rushed for 2,875 yards and 40 touchdowns last year for Centennial High in Corona, Calif., also faxed a copy of his signed letter. Bass was named ESPN’s Southern California high school football player of the year.

And wide receiver Nate Ilaoa, the Washington Post’s Metro player of the year, put his commitment in writing.

Others signing with UH were: linebacker Ikaiaki Curnan and running back Pesefea Fiaseu Jr. of St. Louis School; Kaimuki High receivers Justin Faimealelei and Kila Kamakawiwo‘ole; offensive lineman Lokahi Travi of Kailua High; cornerback Lamar Broadway of Centennial High; linebacker Tyrone Brown of Highland High in California; offensive lineman Brandon Eaton of Worthing High in Houston; running back Josh Galeai of Palomar College; cornerback Omega Hogan of Houston’s Aldine High; cornerback Cameron Hollingsworth of Cascade High in Washington; quarterback Jeff Rhode of Churchill High in Oregon, and wideout Omar Bennett of Laney College.

The signing period started early this morning. On the St. Louis School campus, five Crusaders signed their letters in an elaborate ceremony attended by school officials and parents at Richard Mamiya Hall.

In addition to Fiaseu Jr. and Curnan, linebacker Joseph Lobendahn will attend the University of Washington, nose tackle Lyle Maiava signed with the University of Wisconsin, and defensive lineman Lafaele Manupuna picked Colorado.

Two weeks ago, Maiava made a conditional verbal commitment to the University of Oregon, saying he would sign with the Ducks unless he were offered a scholarship from Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin was always my first choice,” said Maiava, who aspires to be a computer engineer.

When a Wisconsin scholarship became available, Maiava notified the Oregon coaches.

Meanwhile, Fiaseu Jr. and Curnan had no regrets over choosing the Warriors. Fiaseu announced his decision in December because he wanted to make a public declaration before his father left for Alaska to help relatives with a business. Fiaseu Jr. said his father will return to O‘ahu this summer.

Fiaseu, who is St. Louis’ student president, said he considered attending a Mainland college. But, ultimately, he wanted his family and friends watch him play home games.

Curnan described signing as “a big relief; I’m happy to think about other things.”

Curnan was the 1999 state defensive player of the year and a three-time All-America selection.

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