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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kamehameha Schools-Hawai'i: DE Kalani Aldrich

KS-Hawaii’s Aldrich commits to Huskies

Not more than a year ago, Kalani Aldrich wasn't thinking about college football.

In his reality, even before suffering a season-ending injury, college was going to be more about academics than anything. That's life as the son of a high-school principal.

Of course, things have changed for the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Kamehameha-Hawaii two-way lineman. Aldrich has given the University of Washington a verbal commitment to play football, in effect turning down offers from Oregon, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Utah, UNLV and New Mexico State.

Aldrich is projected as a defensive end by the Huskies.

His choice, made on Tuesday morning, was a bit of a shock to Oregon fans. Aldrich visited the Eugene campus earlier in the year and was very impressed.

"Coach (Bob) Wagner said, 'Don't make any hasty decisions,' " Aldrich recalled. Wagner, a former Hawaii head coach, is the athletic director at Kamehameha-Hawaii.

"I pretty much thought at first I was going to Oregon, but I didn't know what else was out there. People there were real nice," said Aldrich, who was recruited primarily by assistant coach Steve Greatwood.

Oklahoma, of course, was another choice worth mulling. The Sooners made Aldrich an offer during the summer.

"They wanted me to send film and call them after the season," he said. "But then I visited Washington."

Coach Tyrone Willingham's program, as well as the Seattle area, made it impossible for Aldrich to consider any other.

"If I were still not sure, I would wait," he said. "We just wanted to finish this up before Christmas."

The difference between Washington and Oregon was subtle.

"Washington felt more like home to me. I could really connect more with the players there," Aldrich said. "Coach Willingham has the same values as me and my family."

Aldrich was recruited primarily by assistant coach and former Nevada guru Chris Tormey.

The All-Big Island Interscholastic Federation selection played offensive tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end for the Division II league champion Warriors. A year ago, he was a second-team All-BIIF pick, falling short of first team after suffering a broken leg at Dr. Francis Wong Stadium in Hilo.

That injury was a turning point in more ways than one for Aldrich, who missed the rest of the season and didn't gain his strength back until midway through the basketball schedule.

Now that he can return to "normal" concerns, Aldrich is happy again.

"In the beginning, it was fun and stuff, but after a while, it's hard," he said of the recruiting process.

Like Oklahoma, Hawaii made him an early offer.

"I thought of going there. I have family and friends there (on Oahu) who said, get out of Hawaii for a while," Aldrich said. "My mom wanted me to go to UH. My dad told me it's up to me."

Aldrich said he will forego his final season of prep basketball to concentrate on football training. Kamehameha-Hawaii was ranked as high as No. 3 in last season's Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Top 10.

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