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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 7, 2002

23 players sign with UH

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Harlan Reed smiled proudly as his son, St. Louis School offensive lineman Mesepa "Sepa" Reed, yesterday signed his letter of intent to play football for the University of Hawai'i next season.

St. Louis players, from left, Ross Dickerson, Taualai Fonoti, Mesepa Reed and John Siofele sign their letters of intent. Fonoti is going to Stanford; the others to Hawai‘i.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I'm a UH season ticket-holder," said Harlan Reed, who wore a green Warrior-print shirt to the news conference at the school courtyard, "but my seats are in the end zone. Maybe if he plays well, I can get an upgrade."

Then Harlan Reed, who works in the film industry, said, "We're very proud of him. He's worked hard, and this is his reward."

Across O'ahu and in California, all but two who verbally committed to UH put their commitments in writing yesterday, the first day of the NCAA signing period for football. Wide receiver Denny Flanagan of Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif., received an offer yesterday and will sign his letter of intent today. Defensive end Hausia Faleofa decided to sign with Western Michigan.

Yesterday's signings were held in different ways. News conferences were staged at St. Louis School, Kailua High, Kahuku High and the Kamehameha Schools.

Offensive lineman Dane Uperesa of Punahou School signed his UH letter during lunch period, surrounded only by his coach, Kale Ane, and an office manager. Mel Purcell Jr., a projected defensive end from Leone High in American Samoa, signed his UH letter in his classsroom.

"It's exciting to do this," said Kailua offensive lineman Marques Kaonohi, who signed his UH letter during a ceremony at his school's library.

"This is an important day," said Mesepa Reed's mother, Toni. "We wanted to be here for him."

About a dozen of Mesepa Reed's family members attended the ceremony at St. Louis School, including his biological mother, Sele Tanoai, who lives in Los Angeles.

Harlan and Toni Reed adopted Mesepa when he was an infant, and they have remained close with Tanoai, who is a distant relative.

"I'm very happy to be here for this," Tanoai said.

Toni said Mesepa is "blessed to have two mothers who love him a lot."

"It really is good to have so much support," Mesepa Reed said.

While television reporters interviewed Mesepa Reed, his sister, Tahiti Warner, stood nearby, capturing the moment with her camcorder.

"We want to be able to look back and remember this special day," Warner said.

Warner lives in Memphis with her husband and their son. "We're a close family, and I always come back for important events," she said. "We'll be back in May for his graduation, but we wanted to be here for the signing. This is important to him, and this is important to us."

Toni Reed said her son was encouraged to participate in sports and pursue a college education.

"I knew he could do whatever he wanted to do," she said. "We're very proud of him."

Even though Mesepa Reed is expected to redshirt as a freshman, Harlan Reed already has worked out his schedule for the next five years.

"In the film industry, you have to work a lot of weekends," Harlan Reed said. "If the Warriors are playing, I'm finding someone to work for me on Saturdays. That's a special day."

Kalavi Blanchard OL 6-4 265 Kahuku High
Notes: Two-year starter for state champions. Eighty percent of running plays went to his side.

Marco Chavez LB 6-3 245 Palomar College
Notes: Already taking classes at UH, and will participate in next month’s spring practice. Can run 40 yards in 4.6 seconds.

Jeremiah Cockheran WR 6-2 185 Chaffey College
Notes: High school teammate of UH wideout Justin Colbert. Ran 40 yards in 4.28 seconds at a combine; 48.3 seconds over 400 meters.

Ross Dickerson SB 5-11 175 St. Louis School
Notes: Named to all-state first team after catching 25 passes for 302 yards. Canceled visit to Colorado.

Tala Esera DL 6-4 265 Kahuku High
Notes: With quickness and intelligence (3.5 grade-point average), he has potential to develop into a top defensive tackle.

Matt Faga DT 6-3 325 Fresno City College
Notes: Former Kaimuki High standout can bench press 480 pounds. In 1999, he was named to OIA White’s offensive and defensive teams.

Inoke Funaki QB 6-0 180 Kahuku High
Notes: Co-Offensive Player of the Year passed for 2,446 yards and 29 touchdowns, and ran for 540 yards and eight scores.

Chad Kalilimoku LB 6-0 240 Santa Ana College
Notes: Junior College All-American can run 40 yards in 4.6 seconds and bench press 495 pounds.

Kahai LaCount OL 6-2 290 Kailua High
Notes: Played guard and tackle as senior. Runs 40 yards in 5.0 seconds, benches 225 pounds 20 times.

Marques Kaonohi OL 6-2 250 Kailua High
Notes: Benches 225 pounds 20 times

Albert Ma‘afala DL 6-2 260 Kamehameha Schools
Notes: All-state player is nephew of Steelers’ Chris Fuamatu-Ma‘afala.

A.J. Martinez CB 6-0 185 Edison High
Notes: Named as the L.A. Times’ Orange County Back of the Year and CIF Division I All-Star. Runs 40 yards in 4.4 seconds.

Kaipo Patoc LB 6-2 225 Mililani High
Notes: Can eventually play outside linebacker or defensive end. Runs 40 yards in 4.6 seconds. Starts on basketball team.

Kenny Patton DB 6-0 175 St. Francis High
Notes: Former Punahou student runs 40 yards in 4.4 seconds, has a 36-inch vertical jump and holds a black belt in karate.

Mel Purcell Jr. LB 6-5 230 Leone High
Notes: Played WR, TE and LB. Runs 40 yards in 4.6 seconds. Can dunk basketball off of 360-degree move.

Mesepa Reed OL 6-5 240 St. Louis School
Notes: Cousin of three former UH players, including Tanoai Reed, stunt double for The Rock. Named to all-state second team.

Samson Satele OL 6-3 285 Kailua High
Notes: Can play center and both guard positions. Runs 40 yards in 4.85 seconds.

John Siofele DL 6-0 265 St. Louis School
Notes: Younger brother of Arizona’s Joe Siofele can bench press 225 pounds 25 times. He made 44 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season.

Ryan Stickler QB 6-3 215 Alta Loma High
Notes: Completed 72 percent of passes (118 of 165) for 1,575 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Darrell Tautofi DL 6-4 270 Dixie State College
Notes: Former Kaimuki High athlete named to All-Western States Football League first team. OIA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1999.

Dane Uperesa OL 6-5 300 Punahou School
Notes: Uncle is USC’s line coach and father started at California in the 1970s. Starter on Punahou basketball team.

John West RB 5-10 195 Yuba City College
Notes: California JC All-American amassed 2,272 all-purpose yards. Runs 40 yards in 4.4 seconds, benches 350 pounds.

Jason Whieldon QB 6-1 190 Saddleback College
Notes: Runs 40 in 4.68 seconds and benches 280 pounds. Threw for 470 yards in JC game. Already enrolled at UH.