Welcome to the ninth piece in our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. These articles aim 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.
9th in MWCConnection Recruiting Rankings.
Hawaii was the last team standing in the inconsistent West division, winning their de facto semi-final game against San Diego State late in the season. They rode their wild offense to wins against two out of three PAC12 teams and most of the Mountain West Conference. Although they couldn’t defeat Boise State in the regular season or the conference championship,
Hawaii’s defense improved marginally this year and found some building blocks, but they need to supplement those blocks with more incoming talent. Linebacker seemed like it could use an upgrade, and the secondary could always use another playmaker. At quarterback, it would not be surprising to see one of the two players who received substantial playing time transfer and their QB recruiting reflect that. Also, for a pass-heavy team, finding talented inside and outside receivers is a must.
The Road So Far:
The Rainbow Warriors recruited in quite a few different areas this cycle, which isn’t easy when everything out of state is extremely far away. Recruiting the Islands is there bread and butter, and that was the case again this year. Four signees enter this class from Hawaii. However, the other states and areas aren’t as traditional; Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, and even one from Pago Pago in American Samoa.
Hawaii was balanced on both sides of the ball thus far, bringing in five offensive recruits in this class to go along with four defensive ones and one special teams player. They secured a pretty talented running back in Daveon Hunter and, better yet, one who fits their system. Then Micah Soliai Howlett, who adds immediate talent to their offensive line. The offense rounds out with three wide receivers; inside speedsters Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala and Kilohana Haasenritter, who are both local high schoolers. Then Jacksonville transfer Calvin Turner Jr, who should be able to step into one of the outside positions.
Turning over to the defense, the Rainbow Warriors added to their defense in a big way with junior college Kemon Smith who should be penciled into their lineup. The second tackle in this class, Maurice Ta’ala, is no slouch either and could develop into a force down the line. Linebacker Ezra Evaimalo looks to be a good fit in their system and continues the trend of local talent. In the secondary, Sterling Ortiz will boost the depth as he also comes from the juco ranks. Finally, special teamer Matthew Shipley is a high-rated kicking recruit and has the potential to be a weapon for them.
Number who signed in December: 10
Number who will enroll early: 3
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: QB, OL, DL, LB, DB
Hawaii turned in a good showing with this recruiting class so far. Perhaps a slight lean too much towards transfer players, with 30% so far. However, it’s all coming in areas of need, and if it’s being utilized more as bridging the gap and ensuring depth rather than being heavily relied upon for success than it’s not as big of a deal. The WR and OL recruits are a strength, and they added a key piece in every line of the defense.
The defense is probably the more significant area of need from now until February, at least in the quantity side of things. Once again, the defensive side of the ball is lagging behind the offense on the field. Finding a pass rusher or two as well as two promising defensive backs, and maybe another linebacker would go a long way for this class defensively. The offensive has fewer holes but is perhaps a bigger one. There’s no quarterback at this time in this class, and it may be by design. There are rumors Hawaii may not add a QB if neither of their top two end up transferring. That aside, it’s probably still a good idea to add a passer in this class. Finally, the Rainbow Warriors do a great job recruiting offensive linemen, and it would be expected for them to add at least one more in this class.
The Rainbow Warriors still have quite a ways to go in their 2020 recruiting class. On the other hand, it’s easy to see the talented pieces they have brought in so far. Ultimately, what they do in February will determine how good this class is, but Hawaii has given themselves a head start on ensuring it’s a solid one.
Previous posts: Boise State, Wyoming, Nevada, San Jose State, Air Force, Fresno State, San Diego State, Colorado State
Coming tomorrow: Utah State