Kahuku High lineman Chris Kemoeatu, The Advertisers Defensive Player of the Year, said last night he has verbally committed to play at Utah.
Kemoeatu, who is 6 feet 5 and 300 pounds, chose Utah over Nebraska, Colorado and Washington because "of my brother, the (Utah) coaches and all my Tongan brothers."
Feb. 7 is the first day high school recruits may sign binding letters of intent.
Kemoeatus older brother, Maake, also a Kahuku graduate, is a defensive lineman for the Utes.
Kemoeatu is the second player from the state champion Red Raiders to commit to Utah. Earlier, linebacker Semisi Livai said he gave the Utes a verbal commitment.
Kemoeatu played offensive and defensive line for the Red Raiders. He had a crucial fumble recovery on offense that led to a touchdown in Kahukus 26-20 win over St. Louis for the state title.
"Hes a vicious player on the field," Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai said. "Hes mean. On the field, he just means business. Hes a nice guy off the field, but on the field, hes just a different person. Hes always fired up."
Kemoeatu was being pursued heavily by the other schools. Coach Livai said earlier yesterday that Kemoeatu was becoming confused as recruiters made their final pitches. But in the end, it was Utah coach Ron McBride who made the difference.
"Hes been recruiting me since I was 13 years old," Kemoeatu said. "I owe him a lot. Hes always helped my family."
Utah is a longtime recruiter of Island prep stars. Former St. Louis quarterback Darnell Arceneaux and former Kahuku linebacker Kautai Olevao both played for Utah and in last Saturdays Hula Bowl on Maui. The Utes listed 11 players from Hawaii on their 2000 roster.