Welcome to the tenth post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #10 team in our rankings, Hawaii.
Hawaii finished a bit lower this year in our rankings compared to the 2018 class. However, much of that was by design. In case you didn’t notice, Hawaii returned to its offensive roots by re-instituting the run-and-shoot offense, which made them much more relevant this past season. However, because of this, they were much more selective on the recruiting trail, making sure the players they were targeting fit their scheme. This was a big shift from the past two years, where they seemingly offered every player under the sun. To see just how these players match up with their style of play, read below.
- 21 players signed
- 10 offensive, 10 defensive, 1 athlete
- 11 players listed at 3-stars by one of the major recruiting sites.
- Breakdown by state: 7 California, 3 Hawaii, 2 Arizona, 2 Texas, 2 Utah, 1 Florida, 1 Georgia, 1 Oregon, 1 Washington
- 119th in the 247 Composite Rankings
QB Zach Daniel
- Zach Daniel is a quarterback who fits very well into the pass-heavy Hawaii offense. He has a strong, accurate arm and can really spread the ball out all over the field. Daniel looks comfortable throwing both on the run as well as in the pocket under pressure. He can scramble to extend plays and pick up yards on designed runs. Zach is a gamer and an addition to any offense and looks like his skills will play well in the run-and-shoot.
QB Boone Abbott
- Boone Abbott is another exciting quarterback in this 2019 Hawaii class. He is extremely mobile, consistently scrambling and moving outside of the pocket and either running or buying time until his receivers get open. When he does throw, Abbott has a big arm who can make throws at any level and isn’t afraid to throw through a tight window. He has a good idea of who will be open pre-snap and because of that, he can get the ball out quickly. Boone also looks like he can slide into the run-and-shoot with little difficulty and the competition between the two should be great.
WR Mekel Ealy
- Meke Ealy has the potential to be a dynamic wide receiver gets quick off the line once the ball is snapped and his long strides allow him to get downfield in a hurry. Ealy has great size and will be a tough cover for MWC corners given his size advantage. He high points the ball very well in the air and should be a key target in the redzone. Given Hawaii’s use for lots of receivers, it’s not out of the question Mekel could play next season but they also might save his redshirt for the future.
WR Lincoln Victor
- Lincoln Victor, who was a signing day announcement, may be the best player in this recruiting class. He’s a dynamic player and it’s easy to see in his tape how he was the best athlete on the field most of the time in high school. Victor played a lot of quarterback in high school and was able to use his blazing speed to out maneuver and out run the defense. While not the biggest player, he is certainly one of the fastest and moves extremely well in space. Lincoln will almost definitely play next season and should be a extremely productive slot receiver.
JUCO WR Melquise Stovall
- Melquise Stovall is a former four-star receiver who should make an immediate impact for Hawaii. He can play running back or wide receiver, which will work to make the offense more diverse and dynamic. Stovall’s high school tape shows him simply out-running everyone else. It’s clear when he gets the ball in space, it always has big play potential. Melquise can come in and play slot-receiver right away and should put up big numbers in this offense.
JUCO WR Jared Smart
- Jared Smart is another junior college wide receiver in this class. He looks like he will make a home on the outside, and his ability to high point the ball will give him the advantage on most plays. Smart does a great job of beating his man at the start of the play, making a move right at the line of scrimmage and then committing to outrunning his man. Jared’s overall skill set should allow him to find a role right away and depending on how things go, he may even start.
JUCO WR James Phillips
- James Phillips continues the junior college theme at wide receiver, giving the Rainbow Warriors another plug and play type coming into the offense. Phillips can also make an impact as a returner, where he excels at having the ball in space and outrunning opponents. He is a supreme athlete who can turn short passes or screens into big plays. James can also run deeper routes and should fit in quite nicely as a slot receiver in the Hawaii offense.
OL Kaimana Wa’a
- Kaimana Wa’a or “Bubba” is a athletic lineman who fits the type Hawaii seems to look for in their offense. He can play inside or outside on the line, but may be best on the interior where his run-blocking skills come into play more. Wa’a is great at driving defenders back to create big holes for running backs and constantly gets into the second level to deliver blocks on linebackers as well. He is very mobile and should be able to be used in multiple ways for plays. Kaimana may take a year or so to be ready for game action but figures to be a multi-year starter for Hawaii.
OL Caden Hilborn
- Caden Hilborn was a two-way player in high school and will move to the offensive line full time in college. He has great footwork, is incredibly mobile, and can get off the line and move in blocking schemes. Hilborn looks best outside as a tackle where his athletic build can be best utilized. His time as a defensive end will only help him understand how to counter pass-rushers as well. Caden may need time to adjust to full-time offensive play but it’s easy to see him as a starter long-term.
OL Arasi Mose
- Arasi Mose is a massive lineman from powerhouse in-state program St. Louis high school. He is a huge force on the line, who is quick enough and strong enough to counter defensive tackles in the trenches. Mose’s side is where most of the running plays go through and there are times he even blocks multiple players to make the play effective. He simply overpowers people when blocking and will be a force to be reckoned that defenses will have to scheme for. Hawaii showed last year they aren’t afraid to play true freshman on the line and Arasi could force the issue this year.
DL Mason Vega
- Mason Vega is a really great athlete who can play all along the defensive line. He can generate a good pass rush from either end or tackle and probably is best suited at an end spot. Vega is simply too strong for offensive lineman trying to block him one one one and he can also run by them at times using his speed. His go-to move is a bull-rush but can use an array of other moves as well. Mason could very well see the field next season, but would also not be surprising if they attempt to preserve his redshirt.
DL Gabriel Iniguez
- Gabriel Iniguez is another athletic player coming in to Hawaii’s class. He is a high-motor type of player and goes full speed as soon as the ball is snapped. Iniguez is a natural pass-rusher, very skilled at getting to the quarterback no matter how many blockers are in his way. He gets into the backfield with ease and blows up passing and running plays alike. Gabriel could very well see the field next year but projects to be a multi-year starter for the Rainbow Warriors.
JUCO DL Djuan Matthews
- Djuan Matthews continues the JUCO influx, especially on defense, to try to stockpile talent who can come in and play right away. He looks great in the middle of a defensive line, eating up blocks and getting into the backfield to stop the run. Matthews displays a nice mix of strength and agility, and once he gets his hands on a player, very rarely do they escape his tackles. As a junior college player, Djuan is expected to play right away and given his talent on tape, that shouldn’t be an issue.
LB Zach Bowers
- Zach Bowers is an under the radar type of recruit who has a chance to be a great college player. He is kind of a do-it-all linebacker, who appears as good in coverage as he is slowing down the run game. Bowers has all the running stopping ability of a classic middle linebacker, diagnosing plays and plugging up holes seemingly with ease. Then, he also looks smooth in coverage, matchup up with players stride for stride and able to make plays on the ball. With those skills, Zach could see the field in some capacity as soon as next season and whenever he gets on the field, others will have trouble trying to unseat him for time.
JUCO LB Tauivi Ho Ching
- Tauivi Ho Ching is coming in from the junior college ranks to help a defense which struggled last season. He moves around the field with ease and seems at his best staying close to the line of scrimmage, be it in run or pass coverage. Ho Ching is skilled at blitzing and is often too fast for lineman for coming in already at full speed. He can also pick up tight ends and running backs out of the backfield in coverage with little problem. Tauivi has two years or experience that he can bring in and hopefully play right away.
LB Darius Muasau
- Darius Muasau is yet another versatile linebacker being brought in by Hawaii in this class. He played middle linebacker in high school and looks like he could stay there moving to the college level. Muasau does well dropping back into zone coverage and can move around well enough to keep the middle of the field covered. He also is solid in the run game, displaying sound tackling and the ability to put himself into good position to make a play. Darius looks like he will be a productive college linebacker for years to come.
DB Tiger Peterson
- Tiger Peterson has the potential to be one of the best signees in this class. He should be penciled in to the hybrid safety/linebacker position that is becoming vital in college football, as he possesses the skills to play there. Peterson can play close to the line in run support as well as be involved in blitz packages. He also has solid coverage skills and can match up with wide receivers as well as running backs. All in all, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tiger play next year and it definitely wouldn’t be surprising to see become an integral part of the Rainbow Warriors defense.
JUCO DB Tavion Allen
- Tavion Allen is a versatile defensive back coming in with experience who is ready to make an impact. He looks like he can compete at either safety or cornerback, where his size and speed give him big play-making ability. Allen plays tight coverage on the outside and has good closing speed to make plays on the ball. As a safety, he can cover a lot of ground in a deep zone and provide double coverage on top of a receiver. Tavion should compete for a starting spot at one of the spots in the secondary next fall and be a productive part of their defense.
DB Travon Killins
- Travon Killins had the potential to be a ballhawk at cornerback for the Warriors down the line. He is technically sound in both his backpedal and his footwork closing in on the ball. Killins also isn’t afraid to get involved in the run game and lay physical tackles on running backs. He does a great job tracking the ball and getting in good position to get his hands on the ball. Travon could benefit from a redshirt year but expect him to push for playing time by making plays in fall camp.
JUCO DB Cortez Davis
- Cortez Davis is another JUCO player who looks ready to come in right away and compete for playing time. He appears tough in coverage, playing very physical on receivers and knows when to play the ball. Davis displays a sound IQ and is able to identify what type of coverage to play depending on how they are lining up. He also gets involved in special teams, adding to his value. Cortez looks like he will play right away come next season and be able to make an impact.
ATH Steven Fiso
- Steven Fiso’s is perhaps the most intriguing player in the Rainbow Warriors class. Given how he is playing in American Samoa, he should be considered raw, but he is athletic, given how he plays wide receiver, safety, and returns kicks. Fiso tracks the ball well in the air and uses his excellent leaping ability to go up and attack the ball. He is at his best with running in space, allowing his speed and athleticism to really shine. Steven will certainly need a year or so to adjust to not only the college game, but also moving to the island and being at a university, but he looks the part on these highlights.
Team Writer Thoughts:
Jeremy: As noted here, Hawaii returns a ton of starters for the 2019 season. As a result, this class was a blend of junior college players to fill depth gaps and a handful of high school players. That said, some of Hawaii’s few losses leave production roles to fill. The exit of John Ursua and other wide receivers, along with depth being an issue for the position in 2018, meant Hawaii needed to not only fill that need, but fill it with talent. Expect all the junior college wide receivers, Lincoln Victor, and Mekel Ealy to compete for early playing time.
Overall, Hawaii is still a program built on young talent. This class was about supplementing the here and now, along with a few long term adds. Expect the next class to be all about the long term future.
Mike: Victor, Bowers, Peterson
Jeremy: Peterson, Victor
Talented enough to play right away:
Mike: Victor, Bowers, Peterson, Vega, Stovall
Jeremy: Petersen, Victor (Obviously all the JC signees were added with a purpose)
Mike: Steven Fiso
Jeremy: Mekel Ealy
Mike: Wide Receiver, Defensive Backs
Jeremy: Wide Receiver, Defensive Backs
Hawaii may not have one of the top classes in the Mountain West Conference, but they definitely have a class that fits their needs. The Rainbow Warriors were able to add an influx of talent, especially at the quarterback and wide receiver positions. They also brought some great additions to the defensive side of the ball, which is an area they desperately need to improve upon. All and all, this class gives Hawaii talented depth they were lacking after all the transfers last season. Now the hope is this class can help them duplicate more seasons like this past one.
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