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Thursday, January 25, 2007

George Kauwalu and Elijah Lesu to UH

Hawai'i lands two All-State players

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Two 2006 Hawai'i All-State football players yesterday made verbal commitments to play for the University of Hawai'i.

Wai'anae High linebacker George Kauwalu, The Advertiser's Defensive Player of the Year, and Farrington High receiver/safety Elijah Lesu will put their commitments in writing Jan. 7, the first day of the NCAA signing period.

Kauwalu, who is 6 feet 1 and 210 pounds, can run 40 yards in 4.6 seconds. He also is a track sprinter. He said he has been a UH fan for several years.

"I always wanted to play for Hawai'i," Kauwalu said. "That was my plan."

Wai'anae defensive coordinator Jason Hussey said Kauwalu is "one of the best I've ever coached. He's very good in pass coverage. He's very instinctive, very intelligent. He's not just a great player, he's a great person."

Hussey said Kauwalu serves as inspiration to other youths on the Leeward Coast.

"He's constantly trying to move forward, to get ahead," Hussey said. "For some kids on this side of the island, this is their ticket out of here. I'm glad the university saw this kid's ability, and found a way to give him a scholarship. I'm absolutely proud of him."

Larry Panui, who serves as a trainer, said his nephew is "outrageously awesome. When he plays, he plays with a full heart, and he has a big heart. Anything he does, he does with his full heart."

Kauwalu said he will play either at outside linebacker or safety at UH.

Lesu was named to The Advertiser's first team as an all-purpose player. He also was the O'ahu Interscholastic Association's 2006 Offensive Player of the Year.

"I wanted to stay home and play in front of my family," said Lesu, who likely will compete at safety for the Warriors.

Lesu, who is 5 feet 10 and 180 pounds, caught 43 passes for 713 yards and nine touchdowns in 2006, including eight catches for 234 yards and four TDs against Moanalua.

"He was on the field most of the time," Farrington coach Randal Okimoto said. "He's very athletic. His work ethic is very good. He has a lot of talent and he works very hard. He's a good pickup for UH."

Lesu doubles as Farrington's starting point guard in basketball.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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