Lineman headed for BYU
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Advertiser all-state offensive lineman R.J. Willing of Kamehameha said yesterday he will accept a scholarship offer from Brigham Young.
"When I went on my trip, it was the one I was most comfortable with because of the church thing," he said. "It was where I fit in the best."
He also visited Oregon and Washington, and was supposed to visit Utah and Hawai'i.
One of the keys to his decision was the opportunity to go on a church mission. He said he will attend school his freshman year before doing his two-year mission. He said Oregon was willing to let him go on a mission, but Washington wasn't.
"I made a list of what was most important: Being able to go on a mission, the prestige of the school, the coaching staff and the environment," he said.
He said BYU coaches told him he would have the chance to play as a freshman.
"It would be really hard, but it's nice knowing I'll be able to contend for a starting position," he said.
Kamehameha alumnus Hanalei Vincent, also an offensive lineman, was Willing's host during his trip to Provo, Utah. Among the activities the recruits did was snowmobiling in the mountains, Willing said.
"I'm OK with the snow," Willing said. "(Vincent) said in about a month, you get used to it."
Willing and 'Aiea offensive lineman Brandon Rodd, a second-team all-state selection, had the most recruiting trips scheduled among the state's recruits. Rodd has visited Hawai'i, San Diego State and Oregon and is scheduled to visit Arizona State this weekend. He said he will cancel a visit to Utah.
The 6-5, 275-pound Rodd is likely to be red-shirted his freshman year because of his potential to get even bigger.
"A lot of schools talk about red-shirting him and building him up," 'Aiea coach Wendell Say said. "He's 275 and can put on some weight and carry it."
Roosevelt defensive lineman Naymon Frank, a relative newcomer to the game, said he would be red-shirted at Oregon State, which he verbally committed to already. He has played football only the past two seasons after an injury forced him to miss playing JV as a sophomore.
Willing said he feels a sense of relief having already made his decision.
"I'm glad it's all over now," he said. "At first, when you're getting recruited, it's exciting. But after, you start getting 10 phone calls a night. It's starting getting ... well, you get impatient. I'm just glad I got it off my shoulders already."
Added Rodd: "It gets kind of confusing. All these coaches want to see you at the same time. But everybody's been great."
Still, the recruiting game has its benefits. Players are reunited with former high school teammates, do activities they can't do in Hawai'i or meet someone famous.
At Oregon, Kamehameha alum Enoka Lucas was Willing's host for the trip. On the trip, Willing met Oregon's Heisman Trophy candidate Onterrio Smith.
"It was pretty cool," Willing said. "He's a funny guy, but real humble."
During Rodd's visit to Oregon, he met Pro Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater, whose son was on the same recruiting trip.
"We talked about (playing) offensive line and he told me some things I would need to do," Rodd said.
Rodd said he liked all of his visits, including one to UH.
"Coach Cav (offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh) was fun," Rodd said. "He's the man."
College recruiters are in town making home visits, hoping for an oral commitment from their recruits. Players not listed (see accompanying list) might get trip or scholarship offers later.
Feb. 5 is the first day players may sign binding national letters of intent.