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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 26, 2009

Kahuku's Tonga is UH-bound

By Stephen Tsai
HawaiiWarriorBeat.com Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Aulola Tonga

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The University of Hawai'i football team yesterday secured commitments from All-State safety Aulola Tonga of Kahuku High School and running back Alex Green of Butte (Mont.) College.

They said they will put their pledges in writing Feb. 4, the first day recruits may sign national letters of intent.

What's more, placekicker Kevin Bell of Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyo., said he expects to join the Warriors as a preferred walk-on.

"I told coach (Greg McMackin) I wanted to be a Warrior," said Tonga, who is 6 feet 3 and 200 pounds. He said he is capable of running 40 yards in under 4.6 seconds.

Tonga also has a 38-inch vertical jump. At Kahuku, he has earned letters in basketball, volleyball, baseball, track and field and football.

Next month, he will earn his Eagle Scout ranking. His project was to build a sandbox for a preschool in Kahuku.

"I wanted to play in front of my family and friends," said Tonga, who turned down offers from UCLA and Brigham Young. "I think there's a chance I can play right away."

Tonga's Kahuku teammate, All-State safety Kamalani Alo, earlier accepted a UH offer.

"Aulola is a great athlete, and a coachable kid," Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said. "He's never angry. He's always positive. He's doing very well in school."

Tonga said he received an offer from UH last spring.

"A lot of schools are picking up on him, but UH wanted him from the start," Torres said. "You can see the effort McMackin is making. He's taking care of the kids. Aulola will be in good hands."

Five UH safeties completed their NCAA eligibility at the end of the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. Tonga is expected to compete at free safety.

"He's got the range and he's got the vertical," Torres said. "He can grow into a linebacker, playing the flats or rushing off the edge, forcing the quarterback to throw over him, which would be difficult to do."

Tonga, who took his recruiting visit this past weekend, said it was helpful to have Kahuku alumni as hosts. His guides were Inoke Funaki, Tuika Tufaga, Richard Torres and Paipai Falemalu.

Green also visited Hawai'i the past weekend, and came away impressed with the UH's coaches and players.

"The city is beautiful," Green said. "The people are great. They made me feel welcomed."

Green's host was cornerback Lametrius Davis. They were teammates at Butte, as well as middle-school classmates in Portland.

"I've known him a long time," Green said.

Davis played for Butte in 2008, and signed with UH the past December. He enrolled at UH two weeks ago.

Green said he is 6-2 and 220 pounds, and is capable of sprinting 40 yards in 4.49 seconds.

He can bench press 310 pounds.

Green also said Hawai'i's family-friendly atmosphere is conducive to raising children. He has a 7-month-old daughter, Harlym.

"I wanted to pick a name that would be unique," he said.

Green added: "Hawai'i is a good fit."

By verbally committing to the Warriors, Green is turning down scholarship offers from Washington, Texas-El Paso and Liberty.

Bell received offers from Miami, Boise State, Utah and Air Force.

But he said Hawai'i is "a great place, really great culture. All of the people are nice. The weather is nice."

Bell is 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds. He said his range is 60 yards.

Bell is an accomplished soccer player. At his father's urging, he decided to try out for football three years ago.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.