Kahuku defensive end Esera commits to Hawai'i football
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
A key defensive player from the state high school football champions has accepted a scholarship from the University of Hawai'i.
Tala Esera, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive tackle from Kahuku High, will sign a letter of intent Feb. 6, the first day high school seniors may submit binding commitments.
"He makes things happen," said Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai, whose team defeated St. Louis, 21-14, in the state final last Friday. "He flushes things out."
Naturu Esera said he is "humbled and happy for the opportunity for" his son.
"He's been a really good kid," Naturu Esera said. "We're very proud of him."
Growing up on the North Shore, Esera participated in only one sport sumo before attending Kahuku High.
One day, the Red Raider coaches asked Naturu Esera for permission to ask his son to join the football team. He agreed, and soon Tala developed into an effective defensive lineman.
Livai said he believes Esera has the potential to grow two more inches.
"He's a big kid, and he can get bigger," Livai said.
Said Naturu Esera: "He has a lot of potential."
Esera already has met the academic requirements to play as a college freshman. He is projected to play defensive tackle at UH. Livai said Esera has a 3.5 grade-point average and scored more than 1,000 on the SAT.
Esera's mother, Mary Jane, is head of Kahuku High's math department. His father, who works for a security company, is a nationally recognized rugby player and a Samoan high chief.
"I'm kind of glad about his upbringing," Naturu Esera said. "He was taught to respect his elders."