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

Prized recruits leave Hawai'i

Advertiser Staff

It was time to rejoice for Kahuku seniors Earvin Atuaia, Suliasi Lautaha and Sola Soliai, all of whom signed letters of intent to attend and play football for Dixie State College in Utah.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Thousands of miles away yesterday, big-time college coaches were smiling about their prize catches from across the Pacific Ocean.

Although the University of Hawai'i signed 12 of the top 20 local recruits ranked by The Advertiser, Mainland schools snatched six of the top eight, including the top four.

Kahuku High School defensive end Jonathan Mapu (No. 1) signed with Tennessee, Iolani defensive lineman Donny Mateaki (No. 2) and Kamehameha defensive end/linebacker Brandon Ala (No. 3) signed with Washington, and St. Louis linebacker Taualai Fonoti (No. 4) signed with Stanford.

Also, Kahuku running back Mulivai Pula (No. 6) signed with Brigham Young and Kamehameha offensive lineman Enoka Lucas (No. 8) signed with Oregon.

Tennessee's class was ranked No. 5 in the nation by a consensus of recruiting services, and Mapu was one of seven defensive linemen signed by the Volunteers.

Six of Tennessee's nine projected starting offensive and defensive linemen next season will be seniors.

"This was a year we needed linemen, short-term and long-term," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer told the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel.

The Volunteers have ranked in the top 15 nationally in run defense in each of the past seven seasons. Mapu, 6 feet 3 and 265 pounds, was named The Advertiser's state Defensive Player of the Year this past season.

Kahuku's Jonathan Mapu, the top football recruit from Hawai'i, hugs his mother after signing a letter of intent to the University of Tennessee.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Washington's class was ranked No. 16 by one national recruiting Web site, and Mateaki and Ala were cited as highlights of the class.

On Washington's official football Web site, Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel had plenty to say about Mateaki.

"I think he can have an impact on our team in a real hurry," Neuheisel said. "I think that this is the kind of athlete who can show up on campus and really wreak havoc if he is ready to go, and I anticipate that would be the case."

Neuheisel was especially impressed with Mateaki's chiseled 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame.

"You have a lot of criteria for evaluation — 40-yard dashes, weight-lifting measurements, and so forth," Neuheisel said. "The one I like to rely on the most as much as any is the 'eye test.' You just look at a guy (and ask), 'Does he look like he is that kind of a player?' Nobody has ever passed the eye test better than Donny Mateaki when you see him for the first time.

"He is an imposing figure, he will get everybody's attention when he walks into a room. Not only does he have the size to attract your attention, he also is an outstanding young guy. He is a terrific addition to this class."

• • •

Hawai'i athletes going elsewhere
Samson Satele OL 6-3 285 Kailua High
Notes: 4.85 seconds in 40

John Siofele DL 6-0 265 St. Louis School
Notes: Benches 225 pounds 20 times

Ryan Stickler QB 6-3 215 Alta Loma High
Notes: All-Area all-star

Darrell Tautofi DL 6-4 270 Dixie State College
Notes: All-Conference choice

Dane Uperesa OL 6-5 300 Punahou School
Notes: Starter on basketball team

John West RB 5-10 195 Yuba City College
Notes: 2,272 all-purpose yards

Jason Whieldon QB 6-1 190 Saddleback College
Notes: 433 passing yards in game