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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 1, 2006

Warrior recruit to go on mission

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Waylon Lolotai, a linebacker from Colorado, will go on a two-year church mission this fall and delay the start of his University of Hawai'i football career until 2009.

"I think it's the right thing to do," said Lolotai, who signed a letter of intent with the Warriors in February. He will graduate from Centaurus High School on Saturday.

In October, Lolotai will turn 19, the minimum age to serve a mission for the Mormon church.

He said he expects to receive his assignment soon after, and will likely begin his mission in November or December. "I'm pretty excited about that," he said.

Some football players opt to spend a year at a university before beginning their church mission. A football player's NCAA eligibility clock five years to play four seasons freezes during a church mission or military duty.

"That was an option," Lolotai said. "But it was my decision to go on a mission after high school. This is something I want to do first."

Lolotai is working on a farm to raise money for his expenses. He plans to spend time in Utah with relatives before leaving for his mission.

Lolotai, who was raised on the Mainland, has ties to the Islands. His father, Tiloi Lolotai, was an All-State lineman at Iolani School and a former University of Colorado player. His grandfather, Al Lolotai, was the first player of Samoan ancestry to play in the National Football League.

Tiloi Lolotai said his son is a lifelong UH fan.

"He always wanted to go there," Tiloi said. "That's why it was a hard decision. Since he was young, he wanted to go on a mission. He knows it will be hard work, knocking on doors and talking to strangers about the church. And he won't get to work out. ... He's pretty active in the church. We, as a family, are, too. The main thing is he'll be able to help people and get an education. His next six years are set up perfectly for him."

At Centaurus, Lolotai played tight end and defensive end. He can run 40 yards in 4.8 seconds, and bench press 185 pounds 21 times.

He also competed in track and field (4x200 relay and discus), wrestling and volleyball.


Cornerback Ryan Keomaka said he is seeking reinstatement to the team.

"That's my goal," he said. "I want to come back."

Keomaka said he was dismissed from the team after he missed two class checks.

"That's what got me," he said.

He said he focused on school work after that, and averaged a B-minus during the spring semester.

Keomaka, who was not on scholarship, returned this week from Japan, where he worked as an entertainer. He said he plans to compete in unsupervised workouts beginning today. Lewis in the clear

Cornerback Gerard "G-Lew" Lewis is enrolled in summer school at UH and cleared to compete for the Warriors this season.

"Everything is fine now," said Lewis, who earned an associate degree in December, an NCAA eligibility requirement for a junior-college transfer.

After completing the 2005 season at Tyler (Texas) Junior College, Lewis signed a letter of intent with Eastern New Mexico, a Division II school.

He then requested and received a release from that commitment, enabling him to contact the UH coaches, who offered him a scholarship in January.

NCAA rules limit recruits to signing one letter of intent. Even though the first letter was voided, Lewis could not sign another one with UH. Instead, he signed a scholarship agreement, a deal that is not binding on Lewis' part. Because Division I-A coaches are allowed to comment only on players who sign letters of intent, UH was not allowed to announce Lewis' commitment.

Lewis said he has received a "full release" from Eastern New Mexico, a move that allowed him to enroll at UH. He also will not have to sit out this season.

Lewis, who is 5 feet 9 and 173 pounds, can run 40 yards in 4.44 seconds. His vertical jump is 36 inches. He said he will compete at cornerback.

Meanwhile, cornerback Lucious Henderson of McCollum High in Texas has passed all of the core classes needed to play as an NCAA freshman. He said he still needs to earn a qualifying score on the SAT. He takes the three-part exam Saturday.

"I'm pretty close," he said. "It's not that big of a hump to overcome."

Henderson, who is 5-11 and 170 pounds, ran 200 meters in 21.33 seconds in a recent state meet. He ran 40 yards in 4.46 seconds at the Baylor Camp.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.