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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 22, 2008

Warriors add RB to recruiting class

 •  UH draws bead on Hawaii Bowl

By Stephen Tsai
HawaiiWarriorBeat.com Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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WHAT: Idaho (2-9 overall, 1-6 WAC) at Hawai'i (5-5, 4-3)

WHEN: 6:05 p.m. today

WHERE: Aloha Stadium

TV: Live, OC Pay-Per-View (Dig. Ch. 255). Delay, KFVE-TV (Ch. 5), tomorrow, 10 a.m.

TICKETS: $34 (sideline), $29 (South end zone), $22 (North end zone: adults), $19 (North: senior citizens), $10 (North: students, ages 4-18).

VIDEO STREAMING: http://uhstreaming.oceanic.com

RADIO: Live, ESPN 1420 AM

ODDS: UH by 23 1/2 points

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The University of Hawai'i football team has landed a highly regarded running back from California.

Jack Sula, who had signed a letter of intent with Boise State in February but never enrolled in that school, yesterday accepted a UH football scholarship.

"I have a second chance," Sula said, "and it's with Hawai'i."

Sula said he will enroll at UH in January. He plans to participate in the offseason conditioning program and compete in spring training.

He will have five years to play four seasons.

"Hawai'i is the perfect place for me," Sula said.

Sula, who is 6 feet and 210 pounds, played running back and linebacker at Carson High School. Although Boise State had recruited him as a linebacker, he will compete at running back for the Warriors.

"That's one of the reasons I picked Hawai'i," Sula said. "I wanted to play running back. That's my priority."

Sula overcame a tough gang-associated background, which was featured in an ESPN The Magazine story. His parents were teenagers when he was born.

But Sula focused on football, becoming one of the top prospects in Southern California.

As a junior, he rushed for 1,840 yards and two touchdowns. He was named the Marine League Player of the Year. He also received a top honor from Old Spice.

As a senior in 2007, he rushed for 1,895 yards. He also made 108 tackles. According to reports, he played with a broken finger, a hyper-extended knee and a mild concussion.

Still, Sula acknowledged, "My senior year was a breakout year."

He received offers from Fresno State, Nevada and Utah, and interest from Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.

Sula, who said he had a 3.2 cumulative grade-point average, chose Boise State. He said he was impressed with the Broncos' facilities and fan support.

But Sula said "It didn't work out" with Boise State. "I felt it wasn't the place for me. I felt God had another place for me."

Sula did not plan on attending any school this academic year. But then a friend of a friend knew Tony Tuioti, UH's director of player personnel.

Sula then requested and received his release from his Boise State commitment. Even though he never attended that school, the letter of intent he signed in February served as a binding contract for the entire academic year.

Sula then contacted UH. After a thorough background check, the Warriors decided to make an offer to Sula.

"They asked me, 'Are you interested?' " Sula said. "I told them, 'I'm interested.' "

Sula said he notified Hawai'i head coach Greg McMackin of his decision yesterday.

Sula, who is of Samoan and Mexican ancestry, said he was drawn to Hawai'i's large Polynesian population.

He added that he was impressed with the Warriors' program, especially the coaches and his future teammates.

"I'm blessed to have a second chance," Sula said.

He said he has kept fit with an intensive training schedule.

"I hit it hard," Sula said. "I work out in the morning and the afternoon. I work out Monday through Saturday."

He said he is recovering from a shoulder injury that has made it difficult to reach his bench-press maximum.

But he said he has power cleaned 315 pounds.

He also is capable of squat lifting 515 pounds.

His rare free time is spent with his family.

"We're close," he said.

Sula said he expects to take a recruiting trip to Hawai'i in two weeks.

Sula will help boost a UH position that will lose four players after this season Daniel Libre, David Farmer, Khevin Peoples and Alonzo Chopp.

Running back Jake Heun is redshirting this season. But Heun also can play defensive end.

The Warriors have been aggressive in pursuing early commitments. Since McMackin was hired as UH head coach in January, the Warriors have emphasized scouting every prospect in Hawai'i, staging a summer camp, meeting with coaches and school counselors on the Mainland, and offering in-season recruiting trips.

The Warriors already have 20 commitments, including Sula. Some are expected to grayshirt, meaning they will begin their UH careers in January 2010.

The early commitments are:

  • Kamalani Alo, safety, Kahuku High.

  • T.J. Alofipo, linebacker, Silverado High.

  • George Daily-Lyles, linebacker, Long Beach Poly High.

  • Joey Iosefa, quarterback/safety, Fagaitua High.

  • Wade Keli'ikipi, defensive tackle, Wai'anae High.

  • Jordan Loeffler, offensive lineman, Hilo High.

  • Chad Lopati, defensive end, Kapolei High.

  • Kimo Makaula, defensive end, Punahou School.

  • Marcus Malepeai, defensive lineman, Radford High.

  • Veni Manu, defensive end, Mililani.

  • Corey Nielsen, quarterback, Gahr High.

  • Lilio Nobriga, linebacker, Palo Verdes High.

  • Deondre Powell, slotback, Gahr.

  • Billy Ray Stutzmann, wideout, Saint Louis School.

  • Iuta Tepa, defensive end, Long Beach Poly High.

  • Mike Wadsworth, safety, Silverado High.

  • Jesse Williams, lineman, Bayside Ravens Gridiron Club (Australia).

  • Kevin Williams, cornerback, Los Medanos College.

  • Chauncy Winchester-Makainai, offensive lineman, Kailua High.

    What's more, four grayshirts will join the Warriors in January. They are offensive lineman Kainoa LaCount, and linebackers Art Laurel, Waylon Lolotai and Alema Tachibana. Grayshirts might be able to count toward the 2008 recruiting class.

    Visit Tsai's blog at http://warriorbeat.honadvblogs.com.

    Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.