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The Recruiting Road So Far: Hawaii

The Warriors are right on track. Also how many players do they really offer?

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Nevada Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

This is part five of our twelve-part series to kick off the recruiting season, and the final one of this week. The aim of these articles are to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, what to expect come December 20th, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February.

Hawaii: 8th in the MWConnection Recruiting Rankings

In the second year of the Rolo era, the Rainbow Warriors experienced a bit of a sophomore slump. Although they fared better than their 3-9 record, wins and losses are still what matter at the end of the day. They had a tough game to start the season, having to travel across numerous time zones to play Umass, but came away with a close win, which they followed up with a home win vs West Carolina However, there was only one more win (against SJSU) following their 2-0 start. They lost four straight games between wins two and three and ended the season with five straight losses. Many of those games they played tough, solid games and the scores were close. They took Wyoming to OT, and played Fresno State and BYU to within 10 points. However, their low point came when they were shut out against Utah State.

Hawaii plays an offense which has been described often thus far, with their base being a 3 WR set, like most teams do these days. To review, the slot-receiver tends to be smaller and quicker than a traditional receiver. In the slot, there is a tendency to run short quick routes designed for quick-hitters or getting the ball in space to utilize the speed. On the outside, routes often are a bit long-developing. Tight-ends usually have dual-responsibilities these days, with an edge to being a pass-catcher over the middle first, and blocking second. However that blocking remains important in the single-back system most teams employ, as does having a RB that can break tackles in the backfield and has the ability to catch passes.

Defensively, they run a 4-3 base. The DEs are the primary pass-rushers and tend to be a bit on the lighter side to use speed. The DT tends to be an interior rusher and along with the NT, plugs up the middle to stop the run. The LBs all have different focuses: the MLB stops the run and covers running backs out of the back field on check downs, the WLB has some run-stopping abilities but also plays in coverage with a slot WR or TE, while the SLB is used to blizt, stop the run, and is your primary pass defender out of the 3, picking up slot WRs or TEs, whoever is considered a bigger threat. The safeties tend to play deeper to provide support to the CBs.

The Road So Far:

They employ some interesting and seemingly effective strategies to attempt to give them an edge in recruiting. One is an apparent rule or guideline that they offer four players for every one spot in their class (ex. if they would be taking 2 WRs, there would be 8 offers out to WRs). This most likely allows them to concentrate on a smaller number of players at once. Secondly, it often seems that Hawaii seems to offer every high school football player around the country. This is by design. Looking at the numbers, their total offers by year’s end is not much higher than other teams. A closer look reveals they tend to give the impression of tons of offers by giving out offers on the same day multiple times a year. That allows specific days to flood social media timelines with the Hawaii brand.

Currently, the Warrior’s class has 8 verbal commits, with 5 coming on the offensive side of the ball, and 3 member of the class from in-state/in-island. First and foremost is QB commit Jeremy Moussa, who was been a leader in this class and could up being a 3-4 year starter at the position. They also have a dual-threat QB in Chevan Corderio and although it is unknown what their plan is for him, a guess would be he shifts over to a skill position where he can use his athleticism to make an impact. And the skill positions look solid with RB Khoury Bethley, and a pair of 6’2 WRs in Eric Rooks and Jonah Panoke, all of whom will become nice weapons with Moussa at the helm.

Defensively, they are small in number so far, but all three flash potential. The pair of DTs, Tristan Nichols and Baraka Beckett will both make a big impact on the D-line, although maybe not at the same time. Nichols is from a great JUCO in Arizona Western and should start from day 1. Beckett may need some time to adjust to college but when he does, he figures to terrorize offensive lines. Safety Kai Kaneshiro is from local powerhouse St. Louis HS and knows how to play and how to win. He will add talent and a winning attitude to a culture that is looking for it.

Number Expected to Sign in December: 8 are expected to sign later this month.

Number Expected to Enroll Early: Of those, 4 are supposed to arrive on campus mid-year.

Top Targets Remaining:

WR Anthony Stell, WR JJ Tucker, LB Malakai Salu, DT Matt Lawson, DE Zach Ritner, DE Kenny Turnier, DB Michael Washington, DB DJ Williams

The Road Ahead:

The Rainbow Warrior are looking to take 22 total players in the 2018 recruiting class. They have many spots left and could use help in this class along the OL, another WR or two, a TE, two DEs, a few LBs as well as some CBs. They are off to a good start no doubt, but now need their offers and hard work to start bearing fruit.

A best case scenario for them would be to land Tucker to complete their WR class, Sale plus another LB or two to build depth there, Lawson, Ritner and Turnier to continue to rebuild the defensive line and then top it off with some secondary help both immediately (Williams) as well as for the future (high-ceiling athlete Washington).

Washington and Willams will be tough to beat out other schools for, but it is possible. Ritner is a strong possibility, as it Tucker. Salu would be a huge get to bolster their LB corp. All that being said, there is a lot to like about what is in this class so far and getting half of the current commits on campus for the spring is huge. It’s clear to see their recruiting strategy is paying dividends for them and should continue to, even though recruiting players to the islands is far from easy. The future looks bright here.

Up Next Monday: Wyoming

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