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2020 Recruiting Breakdown: Hawaii

A class led by wide receiving talent and filled with JUCO players, decimated by coaching changes

NCAA Football: Hawaii Bowl-Brigham Young vs Hawaii Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the twelfth and final post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #12 team in our rankings, Hawaii.

No program was more impacted by coaching turnover in recruiting than Hawaii. They made it through the first signing day unscathed but things fell apart when Coach Rolovich accepted the Washington State job on January 13th. This had a big impact on the second half of their recruiting. Due to this, they ended up taking more junior college players than they normally would for the February Signing Day. Nevertheless, the cupboard is not bare. To see just how these players match up with their style of play, read below.

The Skinny:

  • 17 players signed
  • 9 offensive, 7 defensive, 1 special teams
  • 9 players listed at 3-stars by one of the major recruiting sites.
  • Breakdown by state: 5 Hawaii, 3 California, 3 Hawaii, 3 Texas, 1 Arizona, 1 Louisiana, 1 Oklahoma
  • 127th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

RB Daveon Hunter

Daveon is a talented running back coming to Hawaii. While he doesn’t have elite speed, he reaches top speed after a few steps and it’s enough to get into the second level easily. Hunter is skilled at making players miss tackles through jukes and turning his upper body so defenders can’t get a good grip on him. He has a solid build and balance, which aids him well in his runs. Daveon would make a good option as a single back in a pass-heavy offense, if Hawaii is keeping that with the coaching change.

WR Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala

Tamatoa is a local receiver who is staying on the islands. He possesses blazing speed and excels at catching on the run in an up-tempo offense. Mokiao-Atimalala does most of his damage on shorter routes and then turns on the jets to extend them into bigger plays. He is especially dangerous in the open field where he plants and cuts very well and dodges tackles with no trouble. Tamatoa has all the traits to be a big-time wide receiver at Hawaii and will just need to adjust to the college game to do so.

WR Kilohana Haasenritter

Kilohana is a local athlete coming in to play wide receiver. He is a swiss army knife type who can take direct snaps, take handoffs out of the backfield, or line up as a receiver to catch. Haasenritter has sneaky strength which makes him difficult to tackle. He has great vision on the field and knows where to find the holes in the defense. Kilohana should develop into a major weapon for the Rainbow Warriors.

WR Quin Bright

Quin enters the fold as a signing day surprise and one of the highest rates players in quite some time. He is an electric player on the field with plus plus speed. Bright is a complete receiver, as skilled in the screen game as he is getting open on deeper routes. He is small but appears strong and is elusive when trying to tackle. Quin should see the field from day one and have a productive career as a Rainbow Warrior.

WR Riley Wilson

Riley is a two-way player slated to line up as a wide receiver at Hawaii. He explodes into his route and is very fluid changing directions. Wilson does a great job getting separation with a quick move off the line and has a big catch radius down the sideline or in the middle of the field. He flashes his speed after the catch to extend plays. Riley has a lot of potential to produce at the college level.

WR Calvin Turner Jr (Transfer)

It appears Calvin was a quarterback and cornerback in high school. He spent time at both while at Jacksonville University. Then he moved to wide receiver, which is the spot he will be at for Hawaii for his final year. These are his high school highlights.

JUCO WR Zion Bowens

Zion is coming in from the JUCO circuit. He is a true deep threat who can run down the sideline or over the middle of the field. Bowens has an impressive ability to catch the ball, whether it is in traffic, one-handed, or while leaping. He also does well scrambling and getting open when the play breaks down. Zion should be able to see a lot of reps next fall for Hawaii.

OL Sergio Muasau

Sergio continues the trend of recruiting offensive lineman from the islands. He is an agile lineman who moves quickly after the snap and also into prime position to lay his block on a defender. Muasau’s strength is on display with his ability to drive players back on the line and open up huge running holes. He finishes blocks well and plays through the whistle. Sergio embodies a lot of Hawaii culture and was a good get by the staff.

OL Micah Soliai Howlett

Micah is another local lineman staying home. He is a massive force on the line who delivers punishing hits once the player starts. Soliai Howlett has a large frame and puts immense power into his blocks, pancaking his fair share and not allowing defenders to get off blocks once he gets ahold of them. He also moves pretty well going side to side in pass-protection. Micah plays a lot at right tackle on film and that seems like the right spot for him in college as well.

DT Maurice Ta’ala

Blink and you’ll miss the highlights from this American Samoa recruit. He is the younger brother of current Hawaii player Blessman Ta’ala and may be classified as a bit of a project playing well off the mainland. Maurice has a big frame, is quick off the snap, and uses his strength to get in the backfield.

JUCO DT Kemon Smith

Kemon is one of the better junior college players coming into the conference. He explodes out of his stance at the line of scrimmage, allowing him to get an inside step on the o-line. Smith packs a good deal of power onto his leaner frame, but his speed is what really distinguishes him. He causes havoc in the backfield, closing holes up and making big tackles on running backs and quarterbacks alike. Kemon should be an immediate impact player for the Rainbow Warriors.

LB Ezra Evaimalo

Ezra brings a strong pass-rushing game to the islands. He is comfortable on film rushing from off the line or with his hand in the ground. Evaimalo seems to bounce of blocks and finds a way to get to the quarterback regardless of how many players are in his way. He has a lot of power in his tackles and displays an element of speed bursts in short distances. Ezra will develop into the main pass-rushing threat for the Warriors at somepoint in his career.

JUCO DB Sterlin Ortiz

Sterlin is coming the way of the junior college ranks. He has a smooth backpedal which allows him to see the play develop and keep his eyes on the ball. Ortiz takes good angles to the ball-carrier and is physical when tackling. He can make an impact on run-defense as well as defending passes. Sterlin profiles as a high safety who can roam the secondary and makes plays on the ball.

JUCO DB Logan Taylor

Logan is a junior college defense back who looks like a natural on the football field. He displays great game speed and is quite an asset when closing in to make a tackle at full speed. Taylor is disruptive in coverage, running receivers off of their routes and utilizing his hands to make a play. He is the type of player to stick to his assignment and find a way to get the job done. Taylor has the look of a strong safety who can be up in the box or back in coverage.

JUCO DB Cameron Lockridge

Cameron is another JUCO defensive back in this class. He is at his best sitting back into coverage, where he can see the whole field and step up to make a play. Lockridge is skilled at shadowing the quarterback so he is in position to get into the passing lanes. He has good hands from his time as a wide receiver in high school and tracks the ball well in the air. Cameron should be able to find a role on the field next fall and help the team right away.

JUCO DB Jalen Perdue

Jalen is (wait for it) a junior college DB. He is athletic and agile in coverage, beating receivers to the spot of the throw and maintaining position to make a tackle after the catch. Perdue doesn’t give up on plays and showcases his speed and determination when he runs a receiver down from the other side of the field to bring him down. He can make a difference in the return game as well, where he can be dangerous in the open field. Jalen will find a way to make an impact in some way on the field next year.

K Matthew Shipley

Matthew is one of the more highly rated kicking recruits in the country. He has a nice, repeatable kicking motion on his field goals. Shipley displays his power on kickoffs, getting touchbacks with little difficulty. He is accurate as well, especially from the 35-yard line or closer. Matthew has high potential as a college kicker.

Team Writer Thoughts:

Jeremy: We like to think every recruiting class is unique. Sometimes that’s true, others not. This Hawaii recruiting class will be remembered, positive results or not. That’s because most of these recruits were signed and delivered to be coached by a staff largely now at Washington State. Nick Rolovich is not around anymore, and it’s Todd Graham’s job to mold talent from someone else’s vision. Despite the little time to fill the remaining gaps in the class, Graham managed to lure one of the highest-rated prospects to Hawaii in Quin Bright. The last high school player to commit to Hawaii with an offer list like Bright’s was Kennedy Tulimasealii, so it’s been a while. In that sense, well done by Graham and his staff. Not all of the late additions were flashy, and not all of these guys will contribute or be any good (junior college players are usually 25% hit, 75% miss), but the landing of Bright should give Hawaii fans hope that Graham can lure top high school talent to Hawaii, particularly from Texas. Side note: look for kicker Matthew Shipley to be an all-conference performer one day.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Bright, Smith, Howlett

Jeremy: Bright, Smith, Howlett

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Bright, Smith, Hunter, Turner

Jeremy: Bright, Smith, Hunter, Turner, Shipley, Ortiz, Lockridge

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Haasenritter

Jeremy: Ta’ala

Best unit:

Mike: Wide Receiver

Jeremy: Wide Receiver

Summary:

The Rainbow Warriors had as much recruiting adversity as anyone, but still managed something pretty close to a complete class, even if it is, junior college/transfer heavy. Wide receiver and offensive line especially is primed with talent that could form the core of the next wave. If the junior college defensive line and defensive backs can make an impact right away, the defense could improve enough to finally catch up to the offense. There is a gamble with any recruiting class and this class appears like a bigger gamble. But the real evaluation won’t be until they see the field.

Previous: Boise State, UNLV, Wyoming, San Diego State, San Jose State, Air Force, New Mexico, Colorado State, Utah State, Nevada, Fresno State.

Thanks to everyone who followed along in this series! It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun as well. Hope this provided a taste of the talent coming into the Mountain West next fall.