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Friday, February 09, 2007

Signing day a boon in new hotbed of Hawaii

Signing day a boon in new hotbed of HawaiiUpdated 2/9/2007 3:44 PM ET
Hawaii, known for leis, surfing and luaus, is quickly gaining a reputation as a football hotbed.

Want proof?

Wednesday, 51 Hawaiian prep players signed national letters-of-intent. Traditionally, players from the islands are massive linemen of Polynesian ancestry, but that's changing.

"We were always able to move people (blocking), but the knock was we couldn't move (quickly)," says Darnell Arceneaux, a high school coach and lead recruiting analyst for the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance. "That's changed recently. We have speedy skill players, and the linemen have worked hard on improving their footwork."

This year's crop includes 39 student-athletes who signed with schools in conferences such as the Big 12, Pac-10, WAC and Mountain West.

The top five players, according to Arceneaux are: DL Kaniela Tuipulotu (6-2, 265) of Kahuku, headed to Arizona; DE Scott Smith (6-5, 245) of Saint Louis (Honolulu), headed to California; DE Solomona Aigamua (6-4, 245) of Saint Louis, headed to California; DE Sam Fehoko (6-3, 240) of Farrington (Honolulu), headed to Texas Tech and SS Brandon Hardin (6-3, 180) of Kamehameha (Honolulu), headed to Oregon State.

Fehoko, the first Hawaiian to sign with Texas Tech, originally committed to San Diego State. "The (Texas Tech) coaches told me I can play anywhere for the defense," he said. "I'm glad the recruiting process is over. It's been stressful."

Tuipulotu is one of seven Kahuku players to sign.

Additionally, six signed with Hawaii, three each with Oregon State, California, Mississippi Valley State and two each with the Naval Academy, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico State.

"People may think we're isolated here (in Hawaii) but there's a lot of talent," said Arceneaux, who played at Utah and was an all-state quarterback at perennial powerhouse Saint Louis in the mid-1990s.

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