Camper lands scholarship
|Photo gallery: UH Football youth camp|
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
Christian Vasconcellos came back from yesterday's Hawai'i Football Camp with a T-shirt, extended knowledge in techniques and conditioning ... and a full college scholarship.
"I'm going to be a Warrior," said Vasconcellos, a defensive back who accepted UH's offer last night.
Vasconcellos, who is 6 feet 1 and 181 pounds, is entering his senior year at Damien Memorial HIgh School. He will sign his national letter of intent in February, and join the Warriors in August 2008.
"I like the hype," Vasconcellos said of his decision. "This is my home. I have to protect my home."
Vasconcellos was used as a safety last season. He will play cornerback this year.
He also is a post player on the basketball team and a competitor on the track team. He qualified for the state meet in the triple jump.
Vasconcellos said he made his decision after attending the Hawai'i Football Camp at the UH athletic complex. The UH football coaches serve as instructors.
"It's the only one I could afford," Vasconcellos said. "I couldn't afford any other camp."
Vasconcellos said he learned "new things and different techniques I could bring back. It was really helpful."
KOEHLER, JUST 12, MAKES BIG IMPRESSION AT CAMP
It seemed like it was only yesterday when 6-foot-1, 245-pound Reeve Koehler was a 12-year-old entering the seventh grade.
OK, it was yesterday.
"He's 12?" UH coach June Jones said in astonishment. "That's incredible."
Koehler was among 400 players of all shapes, sizes and purposes who attended the Hawai'i Football Camp.
"My older brother (Solomon) wants to play for UH," Koehler said of Castle High's highly regarded defensive tackle. "I want to play for UH. I wanted to come out here and impress the (UH) coaches."
It was a rare opportunity for Koehler to receive instruction from some of the top coaches in the state. Koehler is too heavy to play in youth football leagues.
"I learned a lot," said Koehler, who plans to play high school football at Damien or Castle.
The camp, the first since 1999 to involve the full UH coaching staff, came at the urging of defensive backs coach Rich Miano and conditioning coach Mel deLaura. Both are organizers of the successful Hawai'i Speed and Quickness clinics.
"Rich and Mel did a great job of putting this together," Jones said.
The intent was twofold: Provide affordable instruction and widespread exposure. The top fee was $60 for the four-day camp. In comparison, Southern California charged $180 for two days.
"I couldn't go to Mainland camps because of the cost," Vasconcellos said. "This is pretty affordable."
Vasconcellos and several teammates signed up under the group rate.
DeLaura crafted a progressive schedule that started with light, small-group workouts and finished with yesterday's intense one-on-one drills.
The skill level was diverse, from novices to some of the state's best players. Chris Fetters, the recruiting editor for www.Scout.com, said he was impressed with the talent.
"It's a solid crop, no question about it," Fetters said. "I think they're starting to scratch their potential. When you talk about kids on the islands, you're talking about unlimited potential. You see physical strength and innate ability."
Fetters rated wideout/defensive back Jermaine Kearse of Lakes High school in Washington as the camp's best prospect.
Kearse is 6 feet 2 and 170 pounds, and can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds.
He already has received offers from Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Arizona State and Colorado.
But after spending four days working with the UH coaches, Kearse said, "I'm putting down Hawai'i as one of the schools I'm considering. It's a nice place. I got along with the people."
Fetters said: "He can play offense and defense. He's a great return guy. He showed a real great burst here."
Fetters said he gave high marks to defensive linemen Aaron Tipoti of Pac-Five, Haku Correa of Damien, Geordon Hanohano of Saint Louis and Solomon Koehler; offensive linemen Mykenna Ikehara of Kamehameha and Sean Tesoro of Baldwin; and running backs Kama Bailey of Damien and Dalton Hilliard of Punahou.
"Sean Tesoro was a big boost," Fetters said. "And when Mykenna showed up, it really upped the level. There were some guys who obviously stood out."
Ikehara, who is 6-3 and 275, said he has received offers from UH, San Diego State and Nevada-Las Vegas.
"Part of going to this camp is to get exposure," Ikehara said. "And I'm learning a lot."
Tipoti's stock also improved. Tipoti has played sparingly after suffering a broken left ankle as a sophomore and a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee last year.
Still, he has received an offer from UH.
"I didn't have too good of a season in past years," Tipoti said. "I was injured. This camp is good. I'm learning new techniques, and I'm getting to meet a lot of coaches. This gives me a chance to show them I'm D-I material, and I have a lot to give."
The camp wasn't just for players. Kapolei High coach Darren Hernandez said the camp gives him a chance to improve his coaching techniques.
"We have one Division I school in this state, and nothing else above high school," Hernandez said. "We don't have junior college teams here. This is a good chance to learn."
FINAL SPEED AND QUICKNESS CLINICS SET
The final Hawai'i Speed and Quickness camps of the year are today and tomorrow at the UH athletic complex.
Well-known local athletes are serving as guest instructors.
The sessions are open to all ages. The fee is $10, and scholarships are available.
Sessions are 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.