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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Tennessee expects to play Mapu

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

Now that his mom brought him a rice cooker and he knows he will get on the football field this fall, everything is OK in Knoxville for Jonathan "J.T." Mapu.

Jonathan Mapu

• Height: 6-3

• Weight: 265

• Birthdate: April 16, 1984

J.P. Mapu was named first-team high-school All-American by "Parade Magazine," "PrepStar," "SuperPrep," Borderwars.com and "Max Emfinger" ... Named second-team All-American by "Student Sports" ... Ranked as the No. 3 defensive end nationally and No. 33 overall prospect by Rivals.com ... Rated as the No. 12 defensive tackle prospect nationally by Borderwars.com ... Listed on The Sporting News Hot 101 ... Member of the PrepStar Dream Team and listed as the No. 4 defensive lineman in the West region ... SuperPrep ranked him as the No. 30 prospect in the Far West and No. 2 in Hawai'i.

Mapu, last season's state Defensive Player of the Year for state champion Kahuku High and one of the most vigorously recruited players in the nation, is the No. 2 defensive left end for the fourth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers.

Mapu expected to spend a redshirt season on the scout team and leave next summer on a two-year mission for the Mormon Church.

Defensive end coach Steve Caldwell had other plans. "He wanted me to save my redshirt year for after the mission, in case I need it to get back in shape," said Mapu, who will return in time for the 2005 season.

Last week, Mapu's role was magnified. "No doubt that his role stepped up a tremendous amount," Caldwell said yesterday. "We lost a starting defensive end (senior Constantin Ritzmann, knee injury) for the season.

"How much J.T. plays this season depends on this week. He'll get a minimum of 25 to 30 snaps against Wyoming. We'll see how he reacts when the gun goes off Saturday night. He's doing great in practice and if he reacts the way I think he will in the game, he will get a third-to-half the snaps a ballgame this year."

Being more than 4,500 miles from home can be stressful for an 18-year-old, but Mapu's transition was eased by an expatriate Hawai'i family in Knoxville, the Dennis Ishiis (he's a St. Louis grad).

Mapu stayed with the Ishiis, whose son is also on the football team, for a month, taking summer school classes with the rest of the freshmen football players.

"It felt just like back at home during the summer, but when we moved into the dorms Aug. 4, I started to miss the food. Hawai'i's got the best food," Mapu said.

He was served mashed potatoes instead of rice at the training table and his weight shot up 15 pounds to 270.

Mom (Maryann Mapu of La'ie) solved the problem when she came to visit two weeks ago and brought a rice cooker. "I missed sticky rice," Mapu said.

Caldwell loves Mapu's football technique. "J.T. knows how to use his pad leverage,'' he said. "Usually when you bring a kid out of high school, he has a tendency to play high. J.T. doesn't do that. He uses his hips well.

"We're sure proud to have him."

Mapu credits his coaches at Kahuku and his uncle, former Arizona State and professional player Junior Ah You, for his technique. "My uncle works me and my cousins every summer," he said.