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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 3, 2006

Defensive recruits please Warriors

Audio: June Jones comments on his recruiting class

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

"We addressed our need areas, and that's all that matters," June Jones says.

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In the end, University of Hawai'i coach June Jones insisted, the recruiting wishes were answered.

"We addressed our need areas," Jones said, "and that's all that matters."

The Warriors had sought to improve the competition on defense, particularly in the secondary. Of the 26 commitments, 18 are defenders, including 11 defensive backs.

Although The Advertiser confirmed that 23 had signed binding national letters of intent or scholarship agreements, UH's compliance officer permitted Jones only to comment on the 20 recruits whose paperwork was processed by yesterday morning. The NCAA restricts Division I head coaches to one news conference to discuss a recruiting class.

Kenny Estes, a defensive back from Waimea High School, said he will sign his letter during a school assembly today on Kaua'i.

Safety Afa Bridenstine of Kahuku High School signed his letter during a public ceremony Wednesday, but UH did not receive the document in time for Jones' news conference.

Safety Stanford Leti and linebacker Quinton Tang of Moanalua High School will wait until receiving test results before signing. The signing period ends in April.

Cornerback Gerard Lewis of Tyler Junior College signed a scholarship agreement a deal that binds the school, but not the player, to a scholarship. The NCAA allows a recruit to sign one letter of intent each year; Lewis had signed with Eastern New Mexico before that contract was voided.

UH also inadvertently forgot to list offensive lineman Adrian Thomas, who enrolled in school last month and already is receiving a football scholarship.

Also left off the official list was Colt Brennan, UH's starting quarterback in 2005. Because Brennan was a walk-on during the 2005 fall semester, the football scholarship he received last month should count as part of the 2006 class.

Asked about a recruiting class that includes the NCAA's leader in passing yards and touchdown passes in 2005, Jones smiled and said, "Not bad."

Jones, who is beginning his eighth year at UH, reserved most of his praise for the six cornerback recruits.

Here is Jones' assessment of each of the recruits whose letters of intent were processed by the school as of yesterday morning:

PO'OKELA AHMAD
Kapolei High School
6-2, 205
UH position: Outside linebacker.
Background: Named Hurricanes' Most Valuable Player as a senior, and the defensive MVP of the HUB Goodwill All-Star game. He also competes in track and basketball.
Jones' comment: "He's a kid that, I think, got overlooked by everybody. I think he might have been the best player in the state. ... I think he proved it in one of those all-star games, too. It kind of scared me that everybody would jump on him. But he's a great kid. He can run. I think he's all upside, you know. He's just really a good player."

CHRIS CAMACHO
Citrus College (Calif.)
5-10, 190
UH position: Cornerback.
Background: In 2005, "Pacman" amassed 70 tackles, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He runs 40 yards in 4.4 seconds, and 100 meters in 10.8 seconds.
Jones' comment: "He's probably the most ready, mature corner. He's a very smart kid. He's got a lot of quickness, and he's got tremendous vision for the game. He's just a real savvy football player."

MITCH FARNEY
Shadow Mountain High (Ariz.)
6-0, 185
UH position: Slotback.
Background: Named to the All-Region first team. He can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds.
Jones' comment: "Mitch Farney is an accomplished receiver. ... He's a real productive player. He'll fit in to what we do as well as anybody has. He's got great separation (and) understanding of the passing game. He makes plays."

BRYSEN GINLACK
Kahuku High School
6-3, 275
UH position: Offensive guard.
Background: He was a 2004 All-State honorable mention.
Jones' comment: "He's an offensive lineman that we kind of grayshirted (last year), pushed (his enrollment) to (this past) January, because we knew he's going to have some time to develop. He's all upside, I think. He's a great kid, works hard. I think he'll get bigger. He'll probably redshirt this fall. But he's going to be a player as he grows into it."

C.J. HAWTHORNE
Mississippi Gulf Coast College
5-11, 165
UH positions: Cornerback, wideout.
Background: He was a receiver, punt returner and punt blocker in junior college. He can run 40 yards in 4.4 seconds.
Jones' comment: "C.J. Hawthorne is fast. ... We're going to play him both at DB and wide receiver, and then he'll settle on what he wants to do after he experiments a little at both. But he's a great kid. He was just one of our guys. I mean, he's fast, and he loves the game, and he's a good student."

LUCIOUS HENDERSON
McCollum High School (Texas)
5-10, 170
UH positions: Cornerback, slotback.
Background: He was named to the All-District second team as a cornerback in 2004. As a starting quarterback last year, he gained more than 6,000 yards in total offense. He can run 40 yards in 4.46 seconds.
Jones' comment: "I don't know what to say about him other than he's probably the fastest guy on the deal here. He's a sprinter. ... (As a receiver) he runs away from everybody, a good make-you-miss guy. We're going to play him at corner. He played corner as a junior. He has all of the skills athletically to be a good one."

KEENAN JONES
Compton College (Calif.)
5-11, 180
UH position: Cornerback.
Background: He can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds, and bench press 245 pounds.
Jones' comment: "Keenan Jones is probably the best hitting corner that I've looked at on tape in seven years, eight years. He's a ... great man-to-man cover guy, and will hit. He's going to have an impact as a corner."

KIRAN KEPO'O
Iolani School
6-2, 220
UH position: Quarterback.
Background: The Advertiser's All-State quarterback completed 165 of 289 passes for 2,556 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2005. He also lettered in basketball and baseball.
Jones' comments: "He's accurate. He's a good player, and a great leader, all of the intangibles. It'll be fun to watch him mature and grow into being the guy for us. ... He'll be productive."

CLAYTON LAUREL
Leilehua High School
6-2, 255
UH position: Offensive line.
Background: A basketball player who moved to football last summer. He can bench press 225 pounds 18 times.
Jones' comment: "The upside on him is he's probably a year away. He'll be a guy that probably would redshirt. We're going to try to push him back to (enroll in) spring (of 2007), to give him time to develop even further. I think he has all of the athleticism to be a top offensive tackle. He's got long arms. He's got great feet. ... I think he's going to be something."

JARED LENE
Altus High School (Okla.)
6-4, 240
UH position: Offensive line.
Background: He was selected to the All-District and All-Area teams. He can bench press 315 pounds, and run 40 yards in 4.79 seconds.
Jones' comment: "Jared Lene ... is the best athletic lineman that we've been talking about. He's got tremendous upside, too. ... On his high school tape, he can run and do things."

WAYLON LOLOTAI
Centaurus High School (Colo.)
6-2, 215
UH position: Linebacker.
Jones' comment: "He's a local kid who wanted to come home. He's a good productive player on his high school tape. He may be going on a mission. We're not sure yet."

PEYTON MA'O
Sinaqva High School (Ariz.)
6-0, 235
UH position: Outside linebacker.
Background: City's Defensive Player of the Year.
Jones' comment: "Peyton Ma'o is the best defensive player I looked at on film. He's a great hitter, a great kid. He played d-line Ñ DE Ñ but he'll probably be an outside linebacker for us. He is everywhere. He's a big-time player."

MYRON NEWBERRY
Trinity Valley College (Texas)
5-9, 170
UH position: Cornerback.
Background: Named as College Football News' 24th-ranked junior college cornerback. He runs 40 yards in 4.36 seconds.
Jones' comment: "Myron Newberry ... is probably the best man-to-man, bump-and-run guy that we've signed. He'll definitely be competing with the JC corners for a starting job."

JACOB PATEK
Blinn College (Texas)
6-2, 210
UH positions: Outside linebacker, safety.
Background: He is a two-time All-Conference player who was selected as a 2005 Preseason Junior College All-America linebacker. He can run 40 yards in 4.41 seconds. Jones' comment: "He's got an unbelievable football gear, a little like Pisa (Tinoisamoa, a former UH linebacker who plays for the St. Louis Rams). He probably could play safety for us. We'll look at him when he gets here and see where he best fits in."

ELLIOTT PURCELL
Saint Louis School
6-3, 230
UH position: Defensive end.
Background: Named to the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's second team in 2005. He runs 40 yards in 4.8 seconds, and bench presses 185 pounds 20 times.
Jones' comment: "I think he is exactly like (UH defensive ends) Mel (Purcell) and Ikaika (Alama)-Francis. He'll grow up to be a big-time defensive end for us and probably be starting for us when they leave. He's going to get bigger, stronger, just like they did."

GREG SALAS
Chino High School (Calif.)
6-1, 185
UH positions: Cornerback, receiver.
Background: A multi-sport athlete who runs 40 yards in 4.5 seconds.
Jones' comment: "He's the most athletic kid that we've got. He played corner and wide receiver. We're going to look at him at corner. ... He hits at corner. He's a hurdler. ... He does everything at their school."

SPENCER SMITH
Kell High School (Georgia)
6-0, 180
UH position: Safety.
Background: As a senior, he was named Cobb County's Defensive Back of the Year. He also was selected to the All-County and All-Region teams. He can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds.
Jones' comment: "He's a real big hitter and a leader. ... He's also a wrestling champion, which says a lot. Those kids are usually over-achievers and do well."

RICK TAYLOR
Nease High School (Fla.)
5-11, 177
UH position: Wideout.
Background: The 2005 grayshirt was chosen to play in the NFL Global Bowl. He can run 40 yards in 4.45 seconds.
Jones' comment: "We liked what we saw on film. He can run. He's smart, and he works really hard. He'll be a competitive player in our offense."

ALASI TOILOLO
Kapolei High School
6-3, 230
UH position: Defensive end.
Background: He overcame injuries to earn a berth on the All-O'ahu Interscholastic Association West second team, and received invitations to the HUB Goodwill All-Star game and the All-Star game in American Samoa.
Jones' comment: "I kind of see him and Elliott as two bookends. I would anticipate he'll have a chance to compete for a starting job after Mel and Ikaika leave. It'll give him time to get a little bigger and stronger. I think they could be our two defensive ends for the future."

DAVID VEIKUNE
Fresno City College
6-3, 245
UH position: Defensive end.
Background: As a Campbell High senior, he was named to The Advertiser's 2003 All-State team. He redshirted at Colorado in 2004. He can bench press 225 pounds 30 times, with a maximum bench of 425 pounds.
Jones' comment: "He's going to be competitive. ... They had some kids at Fresno City on the d-line who were going to other schools. His weight was a little bit down, but he'll get bigger. He kind of makes all of the plays."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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