Jones 'happy' about recruits
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
|JONES: His fourth recruiting class for UH|
"I'm like our players," he said, "I wish the season would start tomorrow. I'm really happy about the way things have gone."
This was Jones' fourth recruiting class at UH, and unlike the previous ones, there was little urgency. In 1999, Jones' first season as UH coach, the Warriors had no experienced dropback quarterbacks behind starter Dan Robinson and there was little depth on the offensive line.
"If we lost a guy boom! the dropoff was big," Jones said.
But after last season, Jones said, "I really felt even if we didn't get any recruits in, we would be a good football team next season."
Most of the members of this year's recruiting class have been on the UH radar for several years. Six of the seven junior college players are either from Hawai'i or were first recruited as high school seniors.
Of all the recruits, quarterback Ryan Stickler of Alta Loma (Calif.) High probably is the only one who did not have some sort of tie to Hawai'i through relatives, friends or coaches. But Stickler, who changed high schools during his junior year, passed UH's scrutiny to earn a scholarship.
Wednesday was the first day of the NCAA's spring-semester signing period. NCAA rules permit head coaches one news conference to discuss players not yet enrolled in school. Although 24 UH recruits have signed letters of intent (and another wide receiver will be offered one next week), only 20 were certified at the time of Jones' news conference yesterday. Here are Jones' comments on those 20 recruits:
Marco Chavez, LB, 6-3, 245, Palomar College: "He's a big linebacker. We needed a guy who is physical. Although he played on the inside and outside, we're thinking of playing him as an outside linebacker on the tight end."
Jeremiah Cockheran, WR, 6-2, 185, Chaffey College: "We recruited him as a freshman. We thought he would be a great player then. I think he has the big-play ability of Ashley (Lelie, a former UH wide receiver), that kind of size and speed. Obviously, he has to come in and learn what we're doing. But he's very committed, and a great kid."
Ross Dickerson, SB, 5-11, 175, St. Louis School: "He has great quickness, and he's familiar with our system. He's kind of a prototype slot who's been successful for me for a number of years."
Tala Esera, DL, 6-4, 265, Kahuku High: "Tala is going to be a big-time defensive end. Because all of the scouts were looking at the other guy (Kahuku teammate Jonathan Mapu) they never really watched him. But I believe that kid has a chance, maybe, to eventually be better than Mapu. He has great feet and size. He's a player."
Matt "Rocky" Faga, DL, 6-4, 320, Fresno City College/Kaimuki High: "He's a perfect defensive tackle. He has great hand quickness and size. He has a chance to play the run and rush the passer, too."
Inoke Funaki, QB, 6-0, 180, Kahuku High: "I think he's going on a (church) mission (for two years). He's a winner, a competitor. We think he's a quarterback after watching him; not many people do, but we think so. He's going to have to prove to us he's not a quarterback before we move him. What can you say? He's won two state championships. He's a winner."
Chad Kalilimoku, LB, 6-0, 240, Santa Ana College/Roosevelt High: "He's a big-time linebacker. I'm excited to get him back home. I think he will make a name for himself. I think he can play inside or outside. We'll see how it sorts out when we come to camp."
Marques Kaonohi, OL, 6-2, 250, Kailua High: "He has a lot of upside. We think he can play center or guard for us."
Kahai LaCount, OL, 6-2, 295, Kailua High: "LaCount has light feet for a big guy. He's a prototype player. It looks like he'll be able to pass protect."
Albert "Abu" Ma'afala, DL, 6-2, 270, Kamehameha Schools: "Abu has really good hand quickness, and is very physical. We're not sure where he will line up, inside or outside, for us, but he's a good football player and he has good instincts. He comes from a good football family."
A.J. Martinez, DB, 6-0, 185, Edison High (Calif.): "He played both ways, but we're going to play him at cornerback. He's got a great mentality for football, it seems, and he has speed and quickness. He's also a baseball player and may get drafted in baseball. I don't think he's going to go pro (in baseball). I think he's going to stay in school. He'll end up helping our baseball team."
Kenny Patton, DB, 6-0, 175, St. Francis High (Calif.)/Punahou School: "Kenny Patton is a sleeper. He's an athlete. We're glad he's coming back home. He had a really good senior year. We looked at him for both sides receiver and defensive back but we're going to put him at corner. I think he can play receiver for us, also."
Kaipo Patoc, LB, 6-2, 230, Mililani High: "Before he gets out of our school, everybody is going to wonder how they missed on this guy. We think he's got really, really good upside. I think he's a linebacker, but he'll probably get bigger and bigger as he goes, and you never know. Great linebackers in 4-0 (defenses) are usually rush defensive ends. He has that potential."
Mesepa "Sepa" Reed, OL, 6-5, 240, St. Louis School: "He has a chance to be a big, big player. He has to gain some weight. He's shown already that he's working hard in the weight room. He has really good feet and he's very smart. That's what you have to have to be a good offensive lineman."
Samson Satele, OL, 6-6, 240, Kailua High: "He's a very good offensive lineman. We think our offensive line right now is very solid. But these young players and Samson being one of them have a chance to play three or four seasons. We think all of these kids have a chance to be starters."
John Siofele, DL, 6-0, 265, St. Louis School: "He really plays hard. We think he can play end or tackle for us. Because we zone blitz a lot, dropping guys (into coverage) and doing different things, we're going to look and see where he best fits in."
Ryan Stickler, QB, 6-2, 212, Alta Loma (Calif.) High: "He's an accurate passer. Look at his statistics (71 percent accuracy). You don't see a passer completing 70 percent, or above, of his passes in high school. He's big, strong and very competitive. ... The thing that stood out is: why is nobody recruiting this guy? I figured something was wrong with him. I think Utah State offered him a scholarship. After we watched his tapes, he wanted to know if we would offer him a scholarship. I said I've never offered a scholarship to someone I've never met in person before. I would, just off of his film, but I wanted to meet him. We brought him in on the visit, and as soon as I met him, I knew he was the right kind of guy."
Darrell Tautofi, DL, 6-4, 275, Dixie College/Kaimuki High: "He's coming home. He has a chance to be one of those impact players. He's athletic as heck. He can really do a lot of things for us. You'd never guess he weighs what he weighs because he's such an athlete."
Dane Uperesa, OL, 6-5, 300, Punahou School: "He made the right decision to come here. He's going to be a great pass protector for us. He's very smart. He has great feet. His upside is something."
Jason Whieldon, QB, 6-1, 190, Saddleback Community College: "We recruited him out of high school, but he chose to go to a junior college because we ended up without a scholarship for him. He's a winner. He's a competitive guy. He reminds me of a lot of quarterbacks I've had who have been successful. He'll find a way to move the team. I think he's an accurate passer. He's got a good enough arm. I'm glad he's here this spring so he can spend spring ball learning the offense."