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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Goodbye, Aloha State

By Ryan Finley
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 08.14.2007

Assistant coach Mike Tuiasosopo has recruited many football players from Hawaii, and all seem to have three common traits.

"They're pretty hungry, they have something to prove being so far away from home, and they have a lot of pride," he said. "It seems like they typically do pretty well here."

Without question, players from Hawaii have left an indelible mark on UA football history. From Steven Grace and Joe Siofele to the Freitas and Fraser brothers, Arizona has expertly mined the islands for 23 years.

The Wildcats were even able to lure one of Hawaii's coaches — Dick Tomey — to the mainland. Tomey took over at the UA in 1987; one of his first recruits was Stanley Mataele, an offensive lineman from Maui.

This year's Arizona team consists of four Hawaii natives — a tight end, two defensive linemen and a quarterback. Two are of Tongan descent, one is Hawaiian and the other is Caucasian.
All four have the ability to be impact players.

"I think there's always a big connection between Hawaii and the University of Arizona, going back to Coach Tomey and them," Tuiasosopo said. "There are a lot of good players there, and I think most of them want to get off the island. "

Bryson Beirne
Position: Quarterback
Year: Freshman
Hometown: Honolulu (Mid-Pacific Institute)
About Bryson: Threw for more than 3,000 yards in high school despite being slowed by injuries. Beirne was able to take a handful of trips to Tucson while in high school thanks to a great family perk: His mother works for an airline.
You look familiar: Teammates and coaches say Beirne bears a striking resemblance to starting quarterback Willie Tuitama, from facial structure down to their matching sizes. Beirne stands 6 feet 3 inches and is 214 pounds; Tuitama is listed at 6-3, 220.
"Everybody calls him my little brother," Tuitama said.

Brandyn McCall
Position: Tight end
Year: Senior
Hometown: Kailua (Mid-Pacific Institute)
About Brandyn: Received a medical hardship waiver stemming from a back injury he suffered in 2005. A Hawaii native, McCall grew up in Kailua and attended Mid-Pacific Institute, a private school in Honolulu. His mother, Brenda, works in the rental business.
Island style: McCall sports a tribal tattoo with Hawaii's flag in it along his left shoulder and biceps. "It looks like the flag is in me," McCall said, "like if you ripped away the skin the flag would be underneath."

Lolomana Mikaele
Position: Defensive tackle
Year: Redshirt freshman
Hometown: Honolulu (Damien High School)
About Mana: Is expected to be one of the Wildcats' top newcomers in 2007 after redshirting as a true freshman.
Did you know? Mikaele has earned the nickname Daddy because of the way he looks after his fellow Hawaiians. "I always want to make them comfortable. We're real close," he said.

Kaniela Tuipulotu
Position: Defensive tackle
Year: Freshman
Hometown: Lahaina (Kahuku High School)
About Kaniela: Expected to compete for a starting spot on the defensive line. Tuipulotu is the cousin of Luke Walton, a former UA basketball player currently with the Los Angeles Lakers. Tuipulotu's mother, Penny Guth-Tuipulotu, is the sister of Walton's mom, Susie.
Heritage: Tuipulotu's mother was a canoe racer, and his father a rugby player on Tongan and New Zealand teams. Tuipulotu's father, Taniela, now works at the famed Kapalua Resort.

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