In an effort to strengthen its defense, the University of Hawaii football team signed a strongman from El Camino College in Torrance, Calif.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Hiram Travis, who can bench press 455 pounds, has accepted a football scholarship and will enroll at UH next week.
Travis played linebacker at El Camino, but is expected to be used at defensive end for the Warriors.
"I felt more at home in Hawaii," said Travis, who turned down offers from Tennessee, Oregon State and Portland State. "I was real comfortable."
Indeed, Hawaii has been a hanai home for Travis, who is a regular Isle visitor.
Travis father, Herb, was born and raised on the Big Island, and his mother, Ala, attended Farrington High before moving to the Mainland.
While living in California, the Travis family has maintained Island ties. Herb and Ala met while paddling for a California outrigger club. As a member of Sissy Kaios halau, Hiram Travis danced at the 1996 Merrie Monarch.
"Hes a natural," Ala said of her son, who also is teaching himself to play the ukulele. "Whatever he takes his mind to, he does well."
It is on the football field where Travis excels. He was such an accomplished youth player that Gardena Mayor Don Dear personally asked him to attend the local high school.
As a high school senior, he received offers from Southern California, UCLA and Washington State. Instead, Travis attended El Camino, where he amassed 11 sacks as a sophomore in 1999. He did not play last fall while completing work on his associate degree.
Travis will have two years to play two seasons at UH.
Travis visited UH last week, and decided to commit soon after returning to California.
"I feel (UH) will have a strong football program for a long time," he said. "I want to be a part of that."