2 linemen from Isles commit to Warriors
By Stephen Tsai
In this recruiting phase, the University of Hawai'i football team is thinking big.
The Warriors yesterday received commitments from offensive lineman David Lefotu of Pearl City High and defensive lineman Viliami "Pep" Fonokalafi of Kaimuki High.
Both participated in UH's Big Man's Camp for linemen. They learned of their scholarship offers after calling the UH coaches yesterday afternoon.
They bring to eight the Warriors' 2010 recruiting class.
Lefotu, who is 6 feet 4 and 295 pounds, is the first Charger lineman to receive a UH football scholarship since Brian Derby in 1981.
"Not even Jason Scott Lee got one," mused David Hallums, a family friend.
Fonokalafi, who is 6 feet and 290 pounds, plays defensive tackle and defensive end for the Bulldogs.
Both cited family and friends in their decisions.
"It's the overall hospitality," Lefotu said. "I grew up here. I lived here my whole life. I don't think there's anything better than playing in front of the people you love and the people you grew up knowing. It's the friendly environment the people of Hawai'i have to offer."
Lefotu received offers from California and Wyoming, and drew interest from Oregon.
Fonokalafi drew interest from Utah, Wyoming and Utah State.
"I kind of made the decision on my own," Fonokalafi said. "I talked to my dad and my brothers. They told me I could go to the Mainland if I wanted to. They told me the decision was up to me. I decided to stay here."
Lefotu and Fonokalafi were among the more than 130 linemen who participated in the Big Man's Camp on the Manoa campus. The Skills Camp was held last week.
"It was a good experience to get out there and compete against some of the best guys in the state," Lefotu said. "I learned a lot. I worked against great guys, and I learned from some great coaches. They really know and understand the game. It was great fun. It was a great learning experience."
UH's coaches and several former Warriors served as instructors.
"They were welcoming," Lefotu said. "They liked to push you to be better. They were positive guys. They made it easier for us to push and play our best for them."
Fonokalafi said: "I felt at home in the camp. I learned a lot of things I didn't even know about football."
Lefotu has competed in wrestling the past two years, and is a member of the Chargers' basketball team.
He was raised on red dirt. "I'm a Pearl City kid," he said.
Fonokalafi plays first base for the Bulldogs' baseball team.
He is capable of bench pressing 345 pounds.
Fonokalafi, who is of Tongan ancestry, performs cultural dances for his church.
He said his nickname was derived from his long middle name.
"All of my life, my mom and dad have been calling me 'Pepa,' " he said. "I came to school, and the coaches asked me where did you get the name? Now the coaches cut it short to 'Pep.' That's fine."