Welcome to the fifth piece of 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 this year in alphabetical order. Today will look at Hawaii.
During the 2020 season, the Rainbow Warriors were the most inconsistent in the Mountain West. In the 2021 season, they were once again the most inconsistent team in the Mountain West. After starting 2-3, they pulled off an upset against undefeated and ranked Fresno State. They lost a close game to San Diego State before losing to UNLV. Somehow, they won their final two games and became bowl eligible at 6-7.
Hawaii endured the highs and lows of the football season and now are going through some off the field drama with reports of turmoil within the program. Through it all, they managed to sign a recruiting class this December. Read about the class below.
The Road So Far:
Hawaii has had a peculiar recruiting strategy under Coach Graham. To be fair, recruiting players to the islands is no easy task, but it’s been better in the recent past. Over the past three recruiting classes, it appears that Hawaii’s strategy is to recruit Texas and transfers, with little regard for much else. While talent is still entering the program, it seems like a narrow focus. For instance, the Rainbow Warriors only signed nine players during the early signing period. Almost half of those signees were of the JUCO or transfer portal variety.
As far as the offense goes, only three players enter the fold, but all come from the high school ranks. Running back Tyler Hines is a small and speedy player who could become a dynamic player. Ethan Spencer is a local lineman, and those types of players have done well in the program over the past few years. Also, Junior Faumui brings huge size to the offensive line.
Jumping over to the defense, it seems the focus was on players who could make an impact as soon as next season. Of the six players on this side of the ball, four of them have college experience in some form. The lone defensive lineman is high school player Malachi Finau from powerhouse St. John Bosco, which was an excellent pick-up. JUCO LB Noah Kema should be able to step into a role right away. Then, there are four defensive backs, which was clearly an emphasis in this class. Local player Kona Moore comes from the local D1 factory St. Louis HS so he should be a talented and sound player. The trio of Cam Bell, Virdel Edwards, and Chigozie Anusiem should inject some serious talent into the secondary, especially Cal transfer Anuseim.
Number who signed in December: 9
Number who will enroll early: 3
247 Composite Rankings:
- Overall: 116th
- Recruiting: 120th
- Transfer: 42nd
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: QB, WR, DL, LB, OL
Hawaii has a good deal of work to do between now and February. Expect them to hit the transfer portal hard to finish off their class. They have a number of positions that could benefit from an upgrade or an injection of new talent.
First and foremost is help at the quarterback spot. With their starter now gone (to a conference rival), it could be an open competition at QB, and getting a transfer of their own could help. Some playmakers on offense would go a long way towards making the offense more dynamic. And teams can always benefit from additional offensive linemen. Although the secondary was shored up, the front seven is still very thin in this class. A transfer player or two on the d-line would be expected in this class, and pairing them with some young high school talent at linebacker would make sense to add some depth behind their solid starters.
While Hawaii may not be exhibiting the best recruiting strategy, there is a path for them to improve by using it. There are still several talented high school recruits left and time to build relationships with (even in Texas). Plus, there are countless players in the transfer portal who can fill any position. Expect the Rainbow Warriors to make significant additions to this class going forward.
Coming next: Nevada