Welcome to the twelfth and final piece in our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. The aim of these articles is to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February. One team a day will be featured, in order of where they fall in their current MWCConnection ranking. Today we wrap things up by looking at Hawaii.
12th in MWConnection Recruiting Rankings.
Hawaii was the pleasant surprise of the Mountain West this season. They started out hot during week 0 and rode that streak for much of September, beating Colorado State, Navy and Rice to start the year. They dropped a close game against Army but were able to rebound and take care of Duquesne and San Jose State. Then the calendar flipped to October and the rest of their schedule seemed to catch on to the Warriors’ offense. They beat Wyoming but then dropped four straight games, losing to BYU, Nevada, Fresno State, and Utah State. Hawaii got their second wind at the end, winning versus UNLV and SDSU, securing a bowl bid, but they ended up losing to Louisiana Tech in the Hawaii Bowl.
The run-and-shoot is an offense that features one running back in the backfield next to the quarterback, typically with four wide receivers going out in patterns. Two outside receivers, and two slot-backs. The uniqueness of the system comes when the receivers “adjust on the fly”, essentially making up which route they intend to run based on what coverage the defense is showing. Hawaii’s version has incorporated some RPO, but the system is still mostly pass-heavy.
Hawaii typically showed a 3-4 formation, with the nose tackle being the foundation of the defense, a three-technique lineman and a defensive end, with the strong-side linebacker occasionally helping out on the defensive line. The end spot is known as the bandit. Some changes might occur as personnel changes in 2019.
The Road So Far:
The Rainbow Warriors secured 13 players on the December signing day. Six from that group are coming in to play offense while the other seven will be slated for defense. They brought in the most of their commits (5) from the state of California and also took three from their backyard in Hawaii. The remaining signees were spread out, with one player coming from each of Arizona, Georgia, Oregon, and Texas.
The offensive list starts at quarterback Zach Daniel. He will end up a great fit in this pass-happy offense. The weapons at wide receiver all look to slide into the inside spots in the formation. They are a trio of JUCO players; Jared Smart, James Phillips, and former 4-star and Cal bounce-back Melquise Stovall, who should replace John Ursua pretty nicely. Out of the two OL commits, Kaimana Wa’a made need some time to develop and put on weight but should look good on the inside of the line. The other, Arasi Mose, is ready size-wise and the local product looks like a future tackle.
Defensively, Mason Vega has great size as a defensive end and is a pretty good bet to develop into a starting DE down the line. Linebacker is surely the strength of this class thus far, with three solid players coming in. Zach Bowers comes out of one of the better programs in Arizona, and junior college incomer Tauivi Ho Ching will restock the position nicely. The future star here will be outside linebacker Tiger Peterson, who projects as a tackling machine with the ability to cover ground defending the pass. In the secondary, Cortez Davis will come in from junior college and displays nice athleticism needed to play defensive back. Finally, there is athlete Steven Fiso, who will be coming from the island of American Samoa. While he will likely be raw, it’s easy to see his athletic build at 6’2 and 178 lb listings.
Number who signed in December: 13
Number who will enroll early: 4
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: RB, DL, DB
The Rainbow Warriors have brought in some talented pieces. However, at this time, it looks much closer to the starter-kit to a class rather than the finished product. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to like, but it does mean there’s still a good amount of work to do.
Hawaii’s defense last season held them back in some games. Continuing to recruit defensive players, especially on the line and in the secondary would help towards shoring up the defense. Also, as much as they pass, they still need reliable running backs at their disposal.
Expect them to offer a few more offers now that January is here. They can finish this class off well with at least four or five additional players at the key positions mentioned above.
There it is. That concludes our twelve-part series on the December Signing Day. Hope this was as an enjoyable for you to read as it was to for me to write. Keep following through the dead period (though there isn’t much recruiting news currently) and into the busy world of January recruiting once in-home and official visits start back up again.
Coming in February: A more in depth breakdown of every MWC team’s complete 2019 recruiting class.