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2022 Recruiting Breakdown: Hawaii

A class built at the last minute

SJSU v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

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

Similar to two years ago, Hawaii had terrible luck with timing trying to put a class together in January after a coaching change. However, this time it likely helped them more than hurt them. The Rainbow Warriors were in dire circumstances under the previous regime, and it was no different in recruiting. They signed only nine players in December, and one of them left before January. When Coach Chang stepped in, he had a tall task but also a chance to make a fresh start. This class was basically put together at the last minute, both right before the first signing period and again. To learn about this class, read below.

The Skinny:

  • 16 players signed.
  • 8 high school players, 4 JUCO players, 4 transfers
  • 7 offensive, 8 defensive
  • 5 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • Players with a composite rating over 85: 0
  • Players with a composite rating over 82: 1
  • Breakdown by state: 6 California, 3 Hawaii, 2 Texas, 1 Utah
  • 247 Composite Rankings

- Overall: 125th

- Recruiting: 125th

- Transfer: 78th

The Players:

Transfer QB Cammon Cooper

Cammon is a transfer from Washington State. He has a big arm with an easy throwing motion and accuracy to boot. Cooper can make all the throws asked of him to be effective in a pass-heavy offense, but can also tuck it and run. He has good footwork in the pocket and knows all of his options on each play. Cammon was a great get for Hawaii and is presumed to be the starting QB going forward if all goes according to plan.

RB Derek Boyd II

Derek was a bit of a late addition to the class but is a talented player nonetheless. He hits the hole hard and changes direction effortlessly. Boyd reached top speed quickly while also maintaining good vision upfield in order to know how to get past defenders for extra yards. He reaches another gear of speed once he is in the second level of the defense and is also competent as a receiver. Derek looks like a great fit in the Hawaii offense as a running back who can hold defenses honest and be successful without many blockers.

RB Tylan Hines

Tyler is a small shifty back coming to play for the Rainbow Warriors. He possesses great vision and exceptional agility, enabling him to make defenders miss. Hines can also take direct snaps or catch the ball out of the backfield and is at his best with getting the ball in space. He has nice hands that allow him to be a true weapon on offense, as he can pile up yards in multiple ways. Tyler is a bit in the mold of Calvin Turner Jr. and will likely be used in similar ways.

JUCO TE Greyson Morgan

Greyson comes to Hawaii after a stop at a junior college. He is a noticeably crisp route-runner and has exceptional hands. Morgan has the speed of a receiver and can line up on the line, out wide, or in the backfield to confuse defenses. He is a willing blocker who isn’t afraid to be physical. Greyson was an under-the-radar find by Hawaii but could be quite a weapon for the offense this fall.

Transfer TE Jordan Murray

Jordan is a transfer coming to the islands after four seasons at Missouri State. He is a long, athletic player who knows how to get open when running routes. Murray’s height allows him to win matchups on jump balls against defenders and his speed helps him gain yards after the catch. He doesn’t go down easily when players attempt to tackle him and he is also a capable blocker in the run game. Jordan should provide depth and be able to contribute immediately next fall.

OL Ethan Spencer

Ethan is coming to Hawaii to plan on the offensive line. He is quick off the snap and bring himself into the proper position to pass-block effectively. Spencer moves well laterally as well backwards, displaying light feet. He can match the speed of pass rushers and recovers well if someone initially beats him. Ethan played mostly guard on his film but appears to have a frame where he could play tackle as well.

OL Junior Faumui

Junior is another offensive lineman in this class. He explodes off the snap and delivers powerful blocks, pushing defenders back forcefully. Faumui is very mobile, often getting into the second level of the defense after his initial block to allow ball carriers to get extra yards. He uses all of his body in his hits, which maximizes his strength. Junior lines up primarily at tackle and seems to be best utilized in the run game.

DL Malachi Finau

Malachi was a very nice pick-up for Hawaii on the defensive line. He displays a quick first step at the line of scrimmage, which allows him to gain an advantage over o-line players. Finau combines his speed with a noticeable amount of strength, being able to get off blocks, creating a nice interior pass-rush. He does a nice job keeping his hands active in order to get off blockers and to the ball carrier. Malachi could play either the three or five-technique spots at the next level and should be a great college play.

DE Dean Briski

Dean is a defensive end in this class. He is coming from American Samoa, where Hawaii has had success recruiting in the past. Briski is quick off the snap and gets into the backfield easily, pushing blockers aside with his strong frame. He doesn’t give up on plays and delivers physical hits. Dean may be a bit raw but it is easy to see his potential at the college level.

LB Malaki Te’o

Malaki is a big talent out of powerhouse Mater Dei high school. He is agile in coverage and reads the quarterback well, allowing him to be in a position to make a play on the ball. Te’o is a menace when it comes to stopping the run, matching the speed of running backs and excelling at tackling in the open field. He flies through the gaps and chases down ball-carriers to disrupt plays before they begin. Malaki is the type of player to build a defense around and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play as a true freshman.

JUCO LB Demarii Blanks

Demarii is another junior college play for the Rainbow Warriors. He has a good frame and the play to back it up. Blanks is constantly moving on the field and is constantly around the action where he can impact a play. He is equally skilled in both run and pass defense, making an offense plan around him. Demarii has played mostly middle linebacker but could probably slot in at weak-side linebacker as well next year for Hawaii.

JUCO LB Noah Kema

Noah comes in from the junior college ranks, providing needed experience. He is a hard-hitting linebacker who gravitates to the ball quickly. Kema flies around the field with his speed and is constantly in the right position to make a play. He is a textbook tackle and is the kind of mobile inside linebacker that is needed in today’s game. Noah should be able to have a role right away next season.

Transfer LB Wynden Ho’ohuli

Wynden is a former big-time high school recruit who made noise when Hawaii was able to convince him to transfer back to the islands. He has huge size and easy speed, which lend itself to his aggressive nature when tackling ball carriers. Ho’ohuli excels in stopping the run, reading the blocking patterns and moving laterally to get into position to square up on a hit. He can hold his own in pass coverage and appears to be more than anyone can handle when shedding blocks and getting to the returner on special teams. Wynden should play right away and could potentially be the hometown star for the Rainbow Warriors.

DB Kona Moore

Kona comes to the islands as a talented defensive back. He plays tight coverage and times the ball well to disrupt a pass with his hands. Moore can also play off his man and closes on a play extremely well. He tracks the ball well in the air and reads quarterbacks well. Kona is a playmaker on defense and could be on the field before too long.

JUCO DB Cam Bell

Cam is another junior college player coming to Hawaii. He is able to cover large parts of the field thanks to his speed. Bell is a natural ballhawk with great instincts and a knack for make a play on the ball. He isn’t afraid to be physical either and tackles well in the open field. Cam can play a few positions in the secondary but seems to fit best as a safety.

Transfer DB Virdel Edwards

Virdel is another transfer coming in to play defensive back. He plays bigger than his size and is able to time his jumps well and uses his body to get in block off receivers from the ball Edwards appears to have an advanced understanding of coverage, able to play both off his man as well as tight coverage with success. He tracks the ball well in the air and uses the sidelines well when defending. Virdel should be penciled in to play meaningful snaps right away next season.

Team Writer Thoughts:

Jeremy: Nothing short of madness ensued for Hawaii football in January, going through the program’s second January coaching change in the last three years. New head coach Timmy Chang was tasked with putting together a class on short notice, although he has a surprising number of scholarships at his disposal. Typically, we’ve graded high school classes as the primary focus, with junior college and transfers a distant secondary focus, but the transfer portal has afforded desperate teams like Hawaii instant-impact performers. Wynden Ho’ohuli is the gem of this “class.” He was the top recruit in the state of Hawaii in 2021, with a composite rating of 93 on 247. An elite recruit. He redshirted for Nebraska before transferring, meaning he’ll have a full four years of eligibility. His addition was essential with the departure of Darius Muasau (that still hurts to write).

Chang has made it clear his focus is on rekindling relationships on Oahu and keeping local recruits home. That said, the Warriors found some potential mainland gems. Malaki Te’o, Junior Taase Faumui, Malachi Finau were all overlooked mainland talents that, with the right development, could thrive. Kona Moore and Ethan Spencer are local favorites of mine; Hawaii tends to make the most of their Saint Louis School kids.

Tylan Hines, Cammon Cooper figure to be instant impact transfers. For me, the story of this class is Timmy Chang’s pledge to departed local recruits. It’s no secret Hawaii struggles to keep the best from the islands home. Forget Power 5, UH has routinely lost local recruits to rival Mountain West schools. Chang made it clear: if the mainland isn’t for you, Hawaii is waiting with open arms. The first major catch from casting this net? Wynden Ho’ohuli. If Hawaii can find others like him, it’s nothing short of a game-changer.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Te’o, Boyd, Faumui

Jeremy: Ho’ohuli, Te’o, Faumui, Boyd, Moore

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Te’o, Boyd, Faumui, Morgan

Jeremy: Ho’ohuli, Te’o, Faumui, Boyd, Moore,

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Finau, Moore

Jeremy: Finau, Spencer

Best unit:

Mike: Linebacker, Running back

Jeremy: Linebacker, Running back

Summary:

Hawaii was backed up against the wall with this recruiting class but managed to secure some talent anyway. The Rainbow Warriors set their sights on local talent as well as found lightly recruited players during the month of January. Similarly, they did a great job finding a talented group of transfers and junior college players who not only added talent to the team but they identified players who can play right away. The Hawaii program needs to rebuild, but this class should jump-start those efforts as soon as next season. Hawaii’s recruiting efforts may not be traditional, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be effective.

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

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