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.
The 2023 season was predicted to be a struggle for the Rainbow Warriors, and that’s exactly what happened. While they were more competitive this season, it didn’t lead to a huge difference in the win column. They had a rough opening schedule, losing three of their first four games, all to Power 5 teams, with the lone win coming up against an FCS team. They got back on track against New Mexico State, but then lost their first four conference games, most of which were in disappointing fashion. Hawaii did finish the year on a high note, winning three of their final four games, beating Nevada, securing a surprising upset win against Air Force, and beating Colorado State on a game-winning field goal.
Through it all, Hawaii is still recovering from the previous coaching regime and recruiting more talent to the islands is imperative. Hawaii took steps to do just that. Read about the class below.
The Road So Far:
Hawaii had an aggressive recruiting strategy, taking advantage of June official visits and securing a number of commits before fall camp opened. They invested a lot of time and energy in finding high school talent, both on the islands and on the mainland. Also, the coaching staff targeted transfers from the portal to get more experience on the roster. This year’s class so far features 15 total signees, 12 of them being from high school and three from either junior college or the transfer portal. That group is also composed of 10 players on offense and 5 on defense. Over half of the class (8) are from the islands, along with a healthy amount from Nevada. California, Texas, and Utah are also represented.
As far as the offense goes, Micah Alejado, the quarterback, hails from powerhouse Bishop Gorman and enrolling early to get a jump start on adjusting to college. Christian Vaughn is a signee from junior college and should add more talent to the running back room next season. The two wide receivers the Rainbow Warriors signed, Jarvis Heimuli and Armando Lewis Jr, have tons of size and should fit in well on the outside. Frank Abreu is coming in as a tight end and he had a lot of hype around him on signing day. The offensive line was a big priority for the team in this cycle, as they signed three players in this class. Tu’i Muti and Jay Tauala-Harris will likely play on the interior while Joshua Tavui is likely a tackle, but all three have college-ready size coming out of high school.
Jumping over to the defense, and Dion Washington is transferring in from in-conference rival Nevada, where he has played 24 games and has 2 starts under his belt. He will pair with Alvin Puefua, who is one of the top recruits in the class and has the size and skill to play early. The pass-rush was a huge area of emphasis for Hawaii and the trio they signed are also three of their better players. Nazaiah Caravallo, Noah Wily, and Tristian Waiamau-Galindo are all local players and all possess the size and ability to see the field early. Alika Cavaco-Amoy is another recruit from Hawaii who is slated to play linebacker.
Number who signed in December: 15
Number who will enroll early: 4
247 Composite Rankings:
- Overall: 117th
- Recruiting: 116th
- Transfer: 93rd
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: LB, CB, S
Hawaii has addressed many of their biggest needs so far in December, but they still have a few cracks to fill between now and February. It would be expected that the coaches are active in the transfer portal and will likely turn a lot of their attention toward the defensive side of the ball.
While the Rainbow Warriors put an emphasis on the edge and defensive tackle positions, the other spots at the defense could use some work. Another linebacker or two would make sense to help complete this class. Also, they will need to address the secondary. Hawaii has a building block or two at the back of the defense, but bringing in safety or cornerback or both would continue to transform the secondary.
It is easy to see that Hawaii has put in a lot of work in this class and while it may not measure up against the top tier in the conference, they are executing their strategy of prioritizing local players and traditional recruiting states like Nevada, plus finding plug-and-play transfers. All of this is helping the Rainbow Warriors in their goal of fielding a more competitive team next season.
Coming next: Nevada